LAHORE: Punjab Inspector General for Prisons Mirza Shahid Saleem Baig has disclosed that there are currently above 47,000 inmates confined in jails across Punjab out of which a total of 27,090 prisoners have so far been administered first dose of the novel coronavirus while 5,545 inmates were vaccinated with both doses since the outbreak of the pandemic. “Besides, 6,667 officials of the Punjab Prisons have, so far, been administered first dose whereas 1,048 personnel had been vaccinated with both doses of the Covid-19,” shared the IG Prisons during an exclusive interview with Business Recorder.
Recalling the efforts of the prisons officials during the pandemic, he disclosed that the first case of the coronavirus was reported from Lahore and the affectee was a foreign national prompting the jail authorities to take immediate measures. He said the infection toll was hardly at 10,000 when the first case of the virus was reported from the Punjab Prisons. “At that time, there was a great panic and fear among the officials due to the virus and no one was daring to take the prisoner to the hospital,” he said. However, he added, when some officials bundled the corona positive prisoner into a police van to shift him to a hospital due to his serious condition, two public-sector hospitals refused the treatment but he was finally admitted to Mayo Hospital.
IG Shahid said the Punjab Home Department, which is the administrative body of the Punjab Prisons, sought help of the Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare (PSH) Department and the Punjab Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) for provision of Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) and imparting trainings to the entire jail staff regarding how to contain the deadly virus.
“Now with the coordination of medical superintendents of every DHQ Hospital, the consultants of contagious diseases are visiting jails to sensitize the inmates and the jail staff how to avoid Covid-19,” he said, adding that to cope with the public health emergency, the Punjab government ensured presence of adequate numbers of medical and para-medical staff at each jail with the coordination of the concerned deputy commissioners and the district health authorities.
He said more than 35 medical officers, including three females, 34 dispensers, four lab assistants and 110 nursing orderlies have so far been trained to deal with early symptoms of the corona victim. “Last week, 10 medical officers, including four women, 14 dispensers, four psychologists, three nursing orderlies, one lab assistant, two LHVs, one midwife and technician were deputed at different jails in Punjab,” the IG said.
When asked about the steps taken to contain the spread of virus inside jails, the IG said the prisons department, following the orders of the Punjab government, in the first step stopped “mulaqat” (interviews/meetings) and court productions for 15 days of the prisoners confined in Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Gujrat, Hafizabad, Jhang, Kasur, Lodhran, Muzaffargarh, Pakpattan, Rahim Yar Khan, Rawalpindi, T.T. Singh and Gujranwala because the infection rate was above eight percent.
Later on, the meetings with family and friends of the prisoners and their production before courts were also suspended in Chiniot, Faisalabad, Khanewal, Lahore, Mianwali, Multan, Okara, Sahiwal, Sargodha and Sheikhupura districts after the positivity rate exceeded 15 percent, the IG added.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021