One in five inmates of Kashmiri jail tests positive for Covid-19

Updated 15 Aug 2020

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Authorities say they were preparing to shift some prisoners after 102 of the 480 inmates tested positive. — AFP/File
Authorities say they were preparing to shift some prisoners after 102 of the 480 inmates tested positive. — AFP/File

SRINAGAR: One in five prisoners at the largest jail in Occupied Kashmir has tested positive for the new coronavirus, authorities said on Friday.

India’s health ministry, meanwhile, reported a daily nationwide rise of more than 60,000 cases for the third straight day.

Authorities at the central jail in Srinagar said they were preparing to shift some prisoners after 102 of the 480 inmates tested positive.

“We are taking extra care and all new entrants are being tested and then quarantined for two weeks,” V.K. Singh, Kashmir’s Additional Director General of Prisons, said.

The occupied valley has reported more than 20,000 cases, of which nearly 5,500 people remain currently infected.

The disputed region has been put under a cycle of coronavirus-related lockdowns since late March. But cases are continuing to rise, putting pressure on medical infrastructure, doctors said.

Dr Nisarul Hassan, an associate professor at Srinagar’s Government Medical College that has around 2,200 beds, of which some 350 are reserved for Covid-19 patients, said the resources were stretched.

“Our hospitals are full of Covid-19 patients. We are running out of oxygen beds,” he said, “Patients have to wait for ventilators as there are not enough of them.” Srinagar’s administration has converted some buildings into temporary coronavirus facilities adding 3,000 beds, with another 2,000 beds in the pipeline.

India is the world’s third worst-hit country, behind only the United States and Brazil, with more than 2.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases, according to a Reuters tally.

The numbers are expected to rise in the coming weeks, as infections move deeper into the vast hinterland.

The country reported another record daily rise in infections on Thursday, while the death toll surpassed 47,000.

Infections grew by 66,999 on Thursday from a day earlier to reach a total of nearly 2.4m to date, the health ministry said.

The country has reported a jump of 50,000 cases or more each day for 15 straight days.

Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2020