The State of Maharashtra informed the Bombay High Court on Friday about the new guidelines to be implemented in prisons across the State in view of the Covid-19 pandemic in furtherance of the previous guidelines issued in regard to protocol to be followed in administration of prisons for effective handling of coronavirus cases.
Court was informed through an affidavit in a batch of PILs seeking various measures for containment of Covid-19 in prison and plight of the inmates during the current pandemic that under Section 7 of the Prisons Act 1894, so far, collectors of 27 districts throughout the State have declared 36 locations as temporary prisons.
State also submitted the current prison population chart stating that there are a total of 28,950 inmates in 60 prisons, which include 21,525 male undertrials, 1,063 female undertrials, 6,116 male convicts and 246 female convicts.
Other important measures undertaken in view of the pandemic are-
In other revenue districts, steps are being taken to declare appropriate places accordingly, as temporary prisons. These premises are being used for decongesting the prisons. Such places declared as Temporary prisons shall also be used as 'Quarantine Centre' and 'Covid Care Centre' by providing proper partitioning and required facilities.
Moreover, in all prisons of the State, every inmate will be examined daily with a thermal scanner. In case any inmate is found to have temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or shows symptoms such as coughing, breathlessness, etc, he/she shall be immediately referred to the nearest aforesaid newly designated temporary Jail cum 'Covid Care Centre'.
At each such 'Covid Care Centre' further action is to be taken, as per the advice of doctor, on Covid testing. Further, action is to be taken in terms of the ICMR and other guidelines issued from time to time, for treating such inmates and for consequent further action.
Every Covid-19 positive prison inmate shall be classified by the medical officer as given below and the Superintendent shall be informed to transfer him accordingly -
i) Mild or very mild cases – Temporary Jail – Covid Care Centre (CCC)
ii) Clinically assigned as moderate – Dedicated Covid Health Centre (DCHC)
iii) Clinically assigned as severe – Dedicated Covid Hospital (DCH)
If an inmate is tested positive then further contact tracing and their categorisation is required to be done. Inmates/Prison staffers who have come within a distance of 3 feet of the Covid-19 positive inmate for more than 15 minutes shall fall in the 'High Risk' category. Those in contact beyond a distance of 3 feet shall fall in the category of 'Low Risk'.
Every 'High Risk' inmate shall be institutionally quarantined in the aforesaid temporary prisons declared by Collectors. He will be tested for Covid, anytime between the 5th and the 10th day, as per the advice of the doctor.
All the Low risk inmates shall continue to remain in the prison but would be examined daily by thermal scanning and would be watched for the Covid symptoms.
The place of residence of a Covid positive inmate shall be disinfected.
To take care of inmates, above the 60 years of age, as they are more susceptible to the covid infection, as far as possible a separate arrangement shall be made, inside the prison itself, so that they do not come in contact with other inmates of the lower age group.
Further, for all the inmates above age 60 years, shall be medically examined by organising special screening to find co-morbid conditions like diabetes, hypertension, cancer, heart ailment etc. Depending on the co-morbid conditions, such inmates shall be further periodically checked as per the advice of the doctor. The known cases of hypertension, their blood pressure shall be checked regularly and for known diabetic inmates, blood sugar levels shall be regularly checked. Any deviation from the normal, (irregularity delete) found in this regard must be treated immediately in order to bring the relevant parameters under control.