By ARUN PRATAP SINGH
HARIDWAR, 3 Aug: Conflicting reports are coming out of District Jail in Haridwar amid claims that 43 prisoners have been detected with Corona infection. This information came to the fore when the prisoners had been tested also for Corona during a camp held for Hepatitis B. Jail authorities and the jail medical teams are learnt to be unhappy over the fact that the prisoners had been tested for Corona infection too without their knowledge and information and that too when they showed no apparent symptoms of Corona. The jail administration claims that none of the prisoners had any symptom of Corona and hence there was no basis for the health teams conducing the Hepatitis B camp to conduct tests for Corona. That the jail authorities are learnt to have objected to the Corona testing, is quite perplexing a reaction coming from them and amounts to denial of the facts. However, once the news has surfaced, of the 36 prisoners being infected with Corona, the least the Jail Authorities could have done was to accept the reality and get all the prisoners tested as well to isolate all those whose test reports turned positive. In fact, unconfirmed reports even claimed that 70 prisoners had tested positive for Corona in the jail. It is a fact that Corona is a highly infectious disease and spreads very easily, even if a large number of patients may remain asymptomatic throughout the period of infection.
It is learnt that the jail authorities still remained on a denial mode and even raised objections with the Chief Medical Officer Haridwar. The district prison in Haridwar is located in Roshanabad. It may be pertinent to point out here that the Health Department had set up a Hepatitis camp in the jail yesterday and during the camp, blood samples of the prisoners were taken to check for Hepatitis. However when the reports came, it was informed that 36 prisoners had also tested positive for Corona infection. On the other hand, Senior Superintendent of Jail Manoj Arya claims that none of the prisoners in the jail including those who tested positive for Corona had any symptom of Corona and were still tested in violation of the ICMR guidelines that specify that only those who showed symptom of Corona could be tested for the same. Based on this argument, objections have been raised with the health department by the jail authorities as to why the prisoners had at all been tested for Corona. It remains to be seen, whether the jail authorities will accept the reality and isolate those who had tested positive or will remain defiant.
So far there is confusion over the actual figure of Corona positive cases in Roshanabad jail. Arya claimed that on the basis of official confirmation, he was still not aware of how many patients were Corona positive. On the other hand, Dr Rajesh Gupta, CMS of Mela Hospital and in-charge of Covid-19, informed that 900 samples were taken in the district jail, in which about 70 had been found positive. Haridwar’s CMO Khagendra Singh, however claimed that there were 43 Corona positive patients in the district jail.
At present there are more than 1250 male prisoners and more than 60 female prisoners in the district jail. It will be also pertinent to point out here that Haridwar is one district which despite receiving huge number of pilgrims from across the country daily, has shown minimum sample collection for Corona testing when compared to other three districts with large population namely Dehradun, Udham Singh Nagar and Nainital.