ONGOLE: A 24-year-old convict at the Ongole Central Prison has tested positive for coronavirus, making this the first case of a prisoner contracting Covid-19 in the state. He had been in the prison for more than 45 days, and was shifted there from a similar facility in Vijayawada on April 12. Officials are clueless as to how he got infected.
The youngster, who was convicted of dacoity, had been alone in a barrack and was not allowed to mingle with other prisoners, officials at the prison said, adding that those who were placed in the facility after the coronavirus outbreak were lodged in separate barracks and not allowed to meet prisoners who had been there from earlier.
Social distancing was practised during the lunch and dinner time, and no ‘mulakaths’ were allowed, they asserted. After the 24-year-old complained of fever a couple of days ago, he was taken to the Ongole Government General Hospital (GGH), where TruNat tests were conducted and the result showed a ‘mild positive’. Swab samples were then sent to the Virus Research and Diagnostic Laboratory and he was confirmed to be infected on Friday. “We are shocked that the inmate tested positive though all precautionary measures were taken. He was in a single-cell barrack and no one went near him,” INH Prakash, Superintendent of Ongole District Central Prison told TNIE.
Officials to test 140 prisoners, 53 prison staff
Officials said a remand prisoner from Vijayawada was lodged in the prison for a day, and he too was isolated from other inmates as he arrived after the lockdown was implemented. They suspect that the infectee may have come in contact with the remand prisoner.
“We prepared a list of people who may have been able to pass on the infection to the prisoner, and are trying to trace them. Meanwhile, we will collect samples from all 140 prisoners and 53 staff at the prison,” Prakash said.
“We started conducting tests for Covid-19 on all prisoners and staff on Saturday. The results will be declared within two days, and arrangements have been made to treat those who may test positive, at the Ongole GGH special isolation ward,” said Dr John Richards, Covid-19 nodal officer of the hospital.