POST TIME: 28 March, 2020 12:55:14 AM
COVID-19 outbreak
Steps taken to prevent spread among jail inmates
UNB, Dhaka

Steps taken to prevent spread among jail inmates

Jail authorities have taken a number of measures, including placing new inmates under mandatory 14-day quarantine, in all jails across the country to prevent the spread of coronavirus among prisoners. The measures taken following the outbreak of deadly coronavirus worldwide have been in enforcement in every jail from the 1st week of the current month, said Additional Inspector General (IG) of Prisons Colonel Abrar Hossain.

Around 89,000 prisoners are there in 68 jails throughout the country against the total capacity of 40,100. Abrar said special measures were taken in all the jails from the last week of February following directives of the Inspector General of Prisons. Especially, those suffering from cold, fever and cough have kept separate at hospitals, he said.

Besides, restrictions were imposed on all kinds of gathering of prisoners inside the jails with effect from March 20, the additional inspector general of prisons said. Mentioning that a prisoner was allowed to meet 3-4 people together in the past, he said now they are allowing only two people. “Both visitors and prisoners have to wear masks and clean their hands with soap and hand sanitizer before meeting each other.”

Adequate hand wash, soaps and masks have already been distributed among the prisoners, he said. Every prisoner is allowed to enter the jail after going through tests at the jail gate, Abrar said. “New prisoners are being kept in a 14-day mandatory quarantine inside the jail.” Contacted, Jailer of Dhaka Central Jail Mahbub Islam said as part of preventive measures taken following the instructions of the prisons headquarters, they are discouraging prisoners to meet visitors unless there is an emergency situation. For it, the number of visitors has been reduced by 80 percent currently, he said.

Besides, they are separating prisoners, who are suffering from cold, fever and cough from other inmates, he said. “They (sick prisoners) are first treated at the jail hospital and after proper examination they’re allowed to return to prison cells.”

Akbar Ali, who was released on bail after a 15-day stay from the Dhaka Central Jail recently, said he was kept separately in the jail for several days as he was suffering from fever. “During the time, I was not allowed to mix with other inmates fearing coronavirus contamination.”

All in the prison wear masks and new prisoners are kept in separate cells for quarantine, he said, adding that the body temperature is also measured at the jail gate before the entry.

Jail Super of Gazipur district jail Nesar Alam said they have set up a new ward inside the prison to keep new prisoners in quarantine. “We’re keeping new prisoners in quarantine for 14 days at the ward.”

Replying to a query, he said they do not allow more than two visitors to meet a prisoner which led to a decline in their number.