Shastry V Mallady

Four more patients down with contagion at prison

MADURAI: Four more cases of 'suspected chicken pox' were reported from the Madurai Central Prison on Friday giving the Health Department officials anxious moments over a possible threat of an outbreak of the disease among inmates. Already 21 prisoners were admitted to the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) at Thoppur near here early this week following the confirmation of the viral disease after medical tests.

The Medical Officer (in-charge) at IDH, S. Chandrasekar, told The Hindu that jail authorities contacted the doctors after four more patients developed suspected chicken pox and they would be shifted to the hospital for treatment on Saturday.

These cases were reported even as five of the patients admitted earlier were discharged from the hospital after recovery. Keeping in view the contagious nature of the disease, all suspected cases in the prison have been quarantined to prevent further spread and jail doctors are keeping a close watch on vulnerable cases.

Officials taking stock

Health officials from the Corporation too visited the jail to take stock of the situation. The IDH doctors said Health Secretary Sheila Rani Chunkath was in touch with prison officials/doctors and had mooted quick control measures to keep in check the spread of the contagion.

A senior prison official said public health officials had been visiting the jail premises at regular intervals. "We have taken adequate precautionary measures to contain the air-borne disease and to prevent an epidemic. All suspicious cases are being segregated."

Madurai prison houses nearly 2,500 inmates, including remand prisoners, even though the actual capacity is only around 1,300, according to jail officials.