The Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday issued orders establishing a COVID-19 care centre (CCC) for prisoners detained under the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act and the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, life convicts and remand prisoners on the Puzhal prison complex in Chennai.

The Government Stanley Medical College Hospital, in association with the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) and the Tiruvallur district administration, will deploy adequate manpower and infrastructure at the CCC being set up at the Borstal School on the campus. While asymptomatic prisoners and others with mild symptoms will be referred to the centre, those requiring oxygen support or critical care will be sent to the Stanley hospital, sources in the Prison Department said.

The proposal to establish the CCC was initiated by the dean of the Government Stanley Medical College Hospital, P. Balaji, and approved by the GCC, with a request that an adequate number of doctors and paramedical staff should be posted there for monitoring of COVID-19 patients and sending daily reports on their health status.

The Puzhal central prison and the Perurani district jail (Thoothukudi district) were in news in recent weeks after several inmates tested positive for COVID-19. When contacted, DGP, Prison and Correctional Services, Sunil Kumar Singh said that all convicts had recovered and there was not a single positive case now.

“But some of the new inmates (remand prisoners) are testing positive for the virus. The results of 15 prisoners in Cuddalore returned positive on Monday. We have implemented a procedure where all accused remanded in judicial custody will undergo a test for COVID-19. The need for a COVID-19 Care Centre in Puzhal was necessitated after some NIA case suspects lodged in the Poonamallee Sub-Jail tested positive…,” he said.

Mr. Singh said that online yoga classes were being conducted for the benefit of the prisoners in all Central prisons and special prisons for women across the State, in association with Isha Yoga.

The customized yoga programme, being conducted for about 600 prisoners through videoconferencing, is aimed at building the overall fitness of the inmates.

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