PESHAWAR: New prisoners have been kept in 14 days mandatory quarantine in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s jails away from old inmates as a preventive measure against novel coronavirus (Covid-19), says a senior official.
“We are taking all possible safeguards and precautionary measures possible,” Inspector General of Prisons Khalid Abbas told Dawn.
Mr Abbas said isolation wards and quarantine centres had been established inside prisons.
He said a ban had been placed on visitors to the province’s 35 prisons both small and large, while social distancing was being ensured on the premises to protect over 11,000 inmates from Covid-19.
The IG said the prisons had set up quarantine and isolation wards for both inmates and staff members.
Official says preventive steps against coronavirus being taken in jails
He said two suspected coronavirus cases were detected in Nowshera and Bajaur prisons but both tested negative for the virus.
Mr Abbas, however, said those inmates were quarantined though they’re not diagnosed with Covid-19.
He said currently, his department didn’t allow new prisoners in Swabi, Nowshera, Lakki Marwat and Tank jails due to the capacity issue.
The IG said new prisoners from Swabi and Nowshera are being sent to Mardan jail and from Lakki Marwat and Tank to Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan prisons, respectively.
He said efforts were under way to make masks and hand sanitisers inside prisons.
“Until now, prisoners have stitched 7,200 face masks and are making more to meet own needs,” he said.
Mr Abbas said 83 litres of hand sanitisers have been made in prisons to augment supplies.
He said the prison department was carrying out a social distancing awareness campaign for prisoners.
According to the details available with Dawn, 11,021 people have been kept in the province’s 35 prisons and 10,480 of them are men and 181 women.
Mardan and Peshawar jails have the highest number of inmates.
The Peshawar Central Prison has a total of 2,377 inmates and Mardan’s 2,595.
A total of 937 people have been kept in Haripur district jail, 814 in Bannu’s, 616 in Kohat’s, 551 in Timergara’s, 470 in Swabi’s, 449 in Nowshera’s, 121 in Malakand’s, 60 in Tank’s, 57 in Kohistan’s, 48 in Battagram’s, 40 in Chitral’s, 20 in Upper Dir’s and 18 in Bisham’s.
The figures show that a dominant majority of 7,938 prisoners are under-trials and most of them totalling 1,873 have been kept in Peshawar prison.
Mardan prison has over 1,600 under-trials, Timergara’s 490, Swabi’s 505, Nowshera’s 499, Abbottabad’s 307, Lakki Marwat’s 312, Daggar’s 291, Kohat’s 407 and Karak’s 203.
The convicts kept in the province’s jails total 2,683, including 909 in Mardan, 480 in Peshawar, 576 in Haripur and 455 in Bannu.
Jails in the merged tribal districts have 404 prisoners.
Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2020