Mumbai: How Arthur Road jail flattened COVID-19 curve

Updated: 14 August, 2020 07:21 IST | Vishal Singh | Mumbai

By offering nutritious food to improving sanitation and releasing low-risk inmates, city prison's cases go from 181 to one

IG Deepak Pandey (sitting, centre) of Arthur Road Jail said 153 prisoners, 28 staffers tested positive for COVID-19
IG Deepak Pandey (sitting, centre) of Arthur Road Jail said 153 prisoners, 28 staffers tested positive for COVID-19

From 181 COVID-19 positive cases in May to just one now, Arthur Road Jail has shown how to beat the pandemic with exercise, a good diet and hygiene. This was achieved when the jail IG and doctors created a manual that included a routine which was to be strictly followed from morning to night.

According to a jail official, the first COVID-19 positive patient was detected at the jail on May 2 and soon 181 inmates including 28 staff also tested positive. Soon after, jail IG Deepak Pandey decided to tackle the issue and along with a doctor (JJ hospital doctors treat patients at the jail), created a manual which the jailed inmates and staff would have to follow.

The manual set a routine from morning to night for the prisoners. This included doing pranayaam as soon as they woke up and then spending two hours in sunlight. The staff and prisoners were also given Sanshamani Vati tablets (suggested by Ayurveda doctor) twice a day and 4 tablets of arsenic album twice a day (suggested by a Homeopathy doctor).

Nutritious food

The IG also ensured a healthy diet for the inmates that included boiled vegetables for lunch and dinner, along with a salad containing cucumbers and beet. Prisoners were also given turmeric milk with powdered black pepper added to it. All the inmates have been given their own plastic plates and bowls.

IG Pandey explained to prisoners how to fight the infection
IG Pandey explained to prisoners how to fight the infection

Congestion was a major reason for Arthur Road Jail becoming the prison worst affected by COVID-19 in the state. To deal with this, since May, 254 prisoners were released on bail after the High Court order about the same. The jail has a capacity of 804 prisoners, with around 1,814 inmates now. "The list of criminals whose crime is not serious was sent to the court, as the order has come, we have released them on bail," IG Pandey said.

Staff back to work

He said the 28 staff members who tested positive had been treated at a BMC facility. All of them have rejoined work. He said the prison administration turned three barracks into isolation centers in the prison, and kept the positive patients there. But four patients who began to experience difficulty in breathing, and had blood pressure or diabetes, were admitted for treatment at JJ Hospital and GT Hospital.

IG Pandey said 28 of the positive staff members of Arthur Road Jail were treated at a BMC facility
IG Pandey said 28 of the positive staff members of Arthur Road Jail were treated at a BMC facility

He said, "At least 181 people were found positive for COVID-19 in Arthur Road Jail. Of these, most of the 153 prisoners did not have symptoms, but we put them in the isolation wards. If someone got worse, he was taken to the hospital for treatment."

Also Read: Plasma therapy safe and effective for COVID-19 patients: Study

IG Pandey also told the prisoners how to protect themselves with simple practices. He said, "There is a toilet in every barrack. We told every prisoner to sanitise his hands before going to the toilet, washing them with soap after using it, and to pour water onto the toilet latch. Toilets are being cleaned every day with pesticides."

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First Published: 14 August, 2020 07:04 IST

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