At least 30 inmates of the Puzhal prison in Chennai tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday. This comes just days after three cases were reported in the Cuddalore and Trichy prisons.
According to Times of India, the tests in Puzhal were conducted on close contacts of the three inmates found positive for COVID-19 on May 27. Reports suggest that samples were taken from 93 contacts of these men and that they have been quarantined till results arrive. Prison officials have reportedly asked that all 650 inmates of the prison and 40 staff be tested but this has not been done.
Director-General of Police (Prisons) Sunil Kumar Singh told The Hindu that 34 convicts were brought from central prisons from across Tamil Nadu for paramedical training at the Puzhal prison complex in March. They were however forced to remain in Chennai due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
According to The Hindu, on May 22, a group of convicts were shifted to central prisons in Madurai, Cuddalore and other districts. After they began to exhibit mild symptoms, they were tested and seven of the 19 were found positive for the virus on May 27 and May 28.
Officials have pointed out that while physical distancing was being maintained in cells and grounds, prisoners were still in contact in the kitchen, dining area and rooms where they made calls. Prison authorities have however assured that proper medical care was being given to infected prisoners of different age groups. Areas across the prison complex are also being disinfected as a precaution.