81 more Arthur Road inmates test positive

One positive at Byculla women’s jail

May 11, 2020 01:41 am | Updated 01:41 am IST - Mumbai

As many as 81 more inmates at the Arthur Road Central Jail tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, taking the number of cases among prisoners lodged there to 158. A prisoner at the women’s prison in Byculla has also tested positive.

The Prisons Department started two quarantine wards in the prison, moving inmates who were earlier quarantined in Mahul back to the jail premises.

Earlier, 77 inmates and 26 staffers at the prison had tested positive. The inmates had been shifted to a vacant building in Mahul for quarantine and treatment.

“We were encountering a lot of opposition from residents of Mahul about the inmates being quarantined there. At the same time, the number of positive inmates was rising. On Sunday, circles number 3 and 10 at the prison premises were converted into quarantine wards, and all 158 inmates were moved there,” a Prisons official said.

The official added that more test reports of inmates and staffers are awaited, and a seven-member team of doctors and paramedics from JJ Hospital will be visiting the prison every day.

Meanwhile, a 54-year-old inmate became the first case at the women’s prison in Byculla on Sunday.

“The prisoner was first taken to the prison infirmary and later referred to JJ Hospital after her oxygen saturation levels dropped to below 90%. Her first COVID-19 test on May 8 was negative and the second one, conducted on May 9, was positive. She has now been moved to St. George Hospital,” an officer said.

High-profile inmates at the Byculla prison include Professor Shoma Sen (61) and lawyer and trade unionist Sudha Bharadwaj (59), both accused in the Elgar Parishad case.

Prof. Shoma Sen was arrested on June 6, 2018, and suffers from multiple ailments, including osteoarthritis, glaucoma and high blood pressure, as per her interim bail application, which was rejected on March 31.

Talking to The Hindu , her daughter Koel Sen said, “I have not been able to meet my mother, but I got a call from her which last exactly two minutes. She said there are 60 people in one barrack and there is no scope of physical distancing.”

Ms. Bharadwaj was arrested on August 28, 2018. Her daughter, Maaysha, told The Hindu , “She has diabetes, hypertension and asthma. I keep getting worried about her health. But I also know that filing for bail now makes no sense, as it is being rejected.”

She added, “I have not spoken to her for months. Each time I call the jail, they say they have no order to let me talk to my mother.”

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