Jail authorities of Kerala are keeping their fingers crossed with reports of high prevalence of COVID-19 being reported from some prisons.
There has been a significant increase in the number of positive cases this week among the prisoners when compared to the previous weeks.
Of the 175 prisoners in Ernakulam, 160 tested positive. In Kannur, 145 of the 800 inmates were found infected. As many as 14 f the 20 prisoners of Thiruvananthapuram, who were screened for the disease, tested positive on Monday.
Currently, the screening is being carried out only for those inmates who display some signs of distress. The revised testing protocol suggested screening only for the symptomatic cases, said a senior official of the Prisons department.
The situation in the jails were better a fortnight ago when around 5,100 prisoners were screened for the disease.
The prevalence of the disease among the inmates was to the tune of eight to 10% of the total population during the screening carried out between April 20 and 26. However, there had been a spike in the numbers since the mass screening programme, the official said.
The jail authorities hope to isolate and treat the ones who have been tested positive in the jail campuses itself and have speeded up the de-congestion drive in the jails as suggested by the courts.
Around 800 inmates including the under trial prisoners were send out of the jails these days as part of the drive. The bail granted to some others were extended so as to delay their return to the prison cells, he said.
At the same time, a few prisoners were reported to be reluctant to leave the jail, as they were unsure of the reception that awaits them at their homes. Prisoners are making contacts with their families to make sure that they could go back to their homes. More number of prisoners would opt for the amnesty scheme once the lockdown was lifted, hoped the official.
The jail authorities are also arranging travel facilities for some prisoners to get back to their homes only to return to the prisons when the situation improves.
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