Coronavirus | 30% prisoners in Tamil Nadu vaccinated against virus

Convict ward turned into COVID facility

Updated - June 02, 2021 02:30 am IST

Published - June 01, 2021 11:41 pm IST - CHENNAI

Safety first:  A prisoner getting vaccinated at the Coimbatore Central Prison.

Safety first: A prisoner getting vaccinated at the Coimbatore Central Prison.

The Tamil Nadu Department of Prisons and Correctional Services has vaccinated 30% of the 4,297 convicts lodged in prisons across the State.

Jail authorities organised special camps in coordination with the local bodies to administer vaccines to inmates and prison staff as part of the safety protocols being followed to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Director-General of Police, Prisons & Correctional Services, Sunil Kumar Singh said the target was to achieve 100% vaccination of the convicts, and a majority of the staff/officers had taken the shot to motivate the prisoners to take the vaccine without any fear.

The prisoners were sensitised to the efficacy of the vaccines and how they could save lives. Of the 30% who were vaccinated among the prison population, more than half took the shot in the last week of May. While the capacity of prisons, including Central prisons, was 23,592, the occupancy stood at 59%. The 108 district and sub-jails were being used as the first level of entry to new inmates with quarantine facility.

Since August last year, all new inmates are being tested and quarantined before getting shifted to Central prisons.

When asked about the health condition of three inmates owing allegiance to an extremist organisation, who tested positive for COVID-19 and were admitted to the Stanley Government Hospital, Mr. Singh said they were from the high-security block of the Puzhal Central Prison, and two of them had tested negative on Tuesday.

“After prisoners lodged in the high-security block showed symptoms of the virus, we requested the DGP, the Chennai Police Commissioner and health officials to convert the convict ward at the Stanley Government Hospital into a COVID ward with adequate security arrangements,” he said.

As many as 198 prison staff had tested positive and were undergoing treatment in various hospitals.

“The prison staff are frontline workers, and ours is an essential service, too. They [the staff] are exposed to risks when they deal with new prisoners,” Mr. Singh added.

Two deaths

On two deaths involving a prison staff member and a remand prisoner in May, the DGP said prisoner Palanisamy, 76, was involved in a murder case and had been lodged in the Coimbatore Central Prison. He was shifted to the Institute of Mental Health, Chennai, for treatment of mental health issues. He tested positive on May 15 and was later shifted to the Stanley Government Hospital, where he died on May 25.

“We also lost 12 staff members to COVID-19, including 10 who died in the last two months,” he said.

Besides six convicts who tested positive for the virus in the Salem Central Prison and were sent to the government hospital there, 77 remand prisoners across the State were undergoing treatment in various hospitals.

More than one lakh prisoners had been released on bail since March 21, 2020, including 43,876 on personal surety, Mr. Singh said, adding that masks, hand sanitisers and soap were made available to all inmates, whose adherence to safety norms was being monitored closely.

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