As many as 23 undertrial prisoners in Bengaluru's Parappana Agrahara Central Prison tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Wednesday. In addition, 6 constables who were part of the jail staff also tested positive for the coronavirus.
Speaking to TNM, BH Anil KUmar, Commissioner, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, said that they are still trying to trace the primary and secondary contacts of the 23 undertrial prisoners.
"About a week ago, several undertrial prisoners were brought to Parappana Agrahara Central Prison. As per procedure, their swab samples were taken for a second round of testing and the results came out positive for 23 undertrials and 6 prison staff," Anil Kumar said.
According to the officials incharge of the prison, the 23 undertrial prisoners had tested negative, when they were produced in court over a week ago. "Before we produce an arrested accused to the magistrate, they ask for test results to determine whether it is safe or not. These prisoners had tested negative then. However, since around 150 undertrials were brought to our jail last week, we had to get them tested the second time as per protocol," a senior official at Parappana Agrahara Central Prison said.
According to Anil Kumar, the jail cells where the undertrial prisoners were lodged, have been evacuated and sanitisation is underway. "We have not closed the whole barrack but just the jail cells and common areas where these 23 prisoners and the six staff members went. We are still in the process of quarantining them. Those who are being quarantined will be sent to COVID-19 Care Centres as they are prisoners," Anil Kumar added.
The 23 prisoners are currently at Haj Bhavan's COVID-19 Care Centre.
However, officials at the prison say that the prison currently has a population of 5,128 prisoners, of which half of them are undertrial prisoners. "We don't know how these prisoners got infected. Whether they got it because of the staff or whether there were any discrepancies in testing when they were arrested. We are trying to find out what happened so that we can work with BBMP to trace all contacts. Since our prison is overcrowded, there is concern of spread but BBMP has assured us that santisation will happen," the official added.