With 145 new COVID cases, tally crosses 350 in Poojapura Jail

Thiruvananthapuram: The emerging COVID cluster at the Poojapura Central Jail at Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram is proving to be a major task for the health authorities and the police department.

Coronavirus pandemic has hit the central jail here with more than 350 inmates testing positive in the last one week and a murder accused succumbing to the pathogen on Sunday, a top prison official said.

The under trial prisoner was the first to test positive for the virus in the prison at nearby Poojapura and in the last one week 359 more cases, including a staff, have been reported, its superintendent Santhosh S said.

As many as 145 cases were detected on Sunday alone, he said adding barring three, shifted to hospital, others have been kept in a special isolation area within the prison.

"An undertrial prisoner in a murder case, Manikandan, who was lodged here since 2016, passed away at the medical college hospital here. He was admitted to the hospital on August 10," he told PTI.

After he was admitted to hospital, the officials had been carrying out tests in the prison, where more than 970 people are lodged.

The superintendent said a total of 197 tests were done on Wednesday and Thursday and of this 100 found to be positive followed by another 113 in the next two days.

"Today, we tested 298 prisoners out of which 145 were tested positive," he said, adding besides them, one positive case was found among the over 300 jail staff.

Two of the infected had been shifted to hospitals and the others, all asymptomatic, were being given adequatereatment, the official said.

Since May, the prison department in Kerala has been screening new remand prisoners for COVID-19 and only those who test negative were being lodged in various jails.

Prisons in the state can accommodate 6,250 inmates and have over 1,600 staff, officials said.

Kerala's COVID-19 case tally stood at 44,415 and the death toll was 156 as of Sunday.

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