More than 1,000 prisoners were transferred after confirmation of the coronavirus case in the district prison
LAHORE: After the worsening situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of adequate facilities, the authorities have decided to move 250 other prisoners from Lahore to Hafizabad prison.
The Lahore District Jail is reported to have at least 49 positive cases and 150 suspected COVID-19. The figures have risen sharply since the first prisoner infected with the new corona virus was confirmed in the last week of March. The patient was ordered in a drug case and has returned to the country from Italy.
When the situation began to get out of control, the authorities moved 1,059 prisoners to Hafizabad.
Attempts to escape by five prisoners during the transfer were also reported. The prisoners were reported to have forcibly opened the prisoner’s floor.
After receiving test results confirming coronavirus cases, the supervisor of the Lahore District Prison asked the authorities not to send new prisoners to prison for lack of health facilities there.
The official cited inadequate health facilities in district prisons after 49 prisoners tested positive in addition to more than 150 suspected patients.
The first confirmed coronavirus infection case from an inmate in Lahore was reported last month, about a man who was arrested on drug smuggling charges. He just returned from Italy.
After realizing the need to ascertain measures to stop the spread of the pandemic, health ministry officials explained to prison authorities about preventive measures. A quarantine center was also established. Prison authorities have written to the Lahore police to ensure that released prisoners will not associate with people and will stay at home for at least two weeks.
The prison authorities have since shared a list of people released from prison with the police.
A few days ago, four prisoners tested positive for the virus. The prison authorities made a policy decision on this issue and asked the Lahore police to test COVID-19 new prisoners before sending them to prison. Munshi, Mayo and Jinnah hospitals were assigned by the authorities for this purpose.
However, on Monday more test results arrived and 49 detainees were found to be suffering from COVID-19. The high rate and growth from one to 49 in just two weeks forced the authorities to take tighter steps and the supervisor of the District Prison has asked the authorities to send new prisoners to the Central Prison.
In addition, on Tuesday a video link training session and a meeting of prison authorities, the interior department and the health department were held. The meeting was chaired by Punjab Special Secretary of the Interior Iqbal Hussain. It was attended by Additional Prison Secretary Zeeshan Rana, IG Mirza Shahid Saleem Baig and Deputy Secretary Awais Mushtaq. DIGs, monitors and medical staff from all prisons in Punjab also joined the meeting.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2020.
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