GUWAHATI: With an inmate of the Guwahati Central Jail testing positive for COVID-19, the district authorities on Friday have sealed the complex with immediate effect to contain spread of the virus.
Issuing the order, Kamrup Metropolitan Deputy Commissioner Biswajit Pegu declared the entire jail premises as "containment zone" after detecting the first jail inmate to have tested coronavirus positive in Assam.
"In view of the detection of a COVID-19 positive patient at Central Jail in Guwahati city, in the interest of maintenance of public hygiene and to prevent further spread of COVID-19 virus in the said area, the Central Jail area is declared as a Containment Zone," the order said.
Pegu directed the circle officer of Dispur revenue circle to seal the entire area immediately.
The order mentioned that any unauthorised entry or exit and movement of any vehicle have been barred till the area is declared safe as per the guidelines of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
When contacted, a senior Home Department official told PTI that the prison authorities had created coronavirus wards in all the jails of the state to lodge new inmates after the lockdown began on March 25.
"This step ensured that the new inmates did not interact with other people of the jail which prevented the spread of the virus to the old inmates," he said.
The official, who did not wish to be named, said that the person who had tested COVID-19 in the jail had been arrested on charges of theft.
He was brought in with six other persons on June 1 after a local court sent them to judicial custody.
"The new inmates were staying in the coronavirus ward of the jail. So, there was very minimal contact with other people of the jail. The health officials have identified all the contacts and their samples are being collected for testing," he said.
The official also said that all the new inmates are properly screened before bringing them inside the premises and at times swab samples are taken if any symptoms are seen.
The Guwahati Central Jail currently has 1,118 inmates against its capacity of housing 1,000 persons.
Assam has six central jails, 22 district jails, one open air jail, one special jail, one sub-jail and six detention centres.
A day after the state recorded the highest ever daily jump of 285 patients, Assam reported 38 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, taking the total to 2,153 patients.