Two Prisoners Shifted from Bengaluru to ‘Green’ District of Ramanagara Test Positive for Covid-19

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Two Prisoners Shifted from Bengaluru to ‘Green’ District of Ramanagara Test Positive for Covid-19

Bengaluru (News18): Days after 121 prisoners were shifted from Bengaluru to the neighbouring Ramanagara district jail, leading to a major controversy, two of them have tested positive for COVID-19.

Besides, all the prisoners were reportedly kept in a very small jail, and there are chances that more among them could test positive in the coming days.

Ramanagara is one of the eight districts in Karnataka that had not seen a single coronavirus case until now, despite being close to the capital city and falling en route the two red zone districts of Bengaluru and Mysure.

Earlier this week, locals of Padarayanapura, a ward identified as a containment zone by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), had gone on a rampage objecting to the way contact-tracing was being done.

The people who took to the streets questioned the authorities’ decision to shift ‘secondary contacts’ to government quarantine centres when they could be quarantined at their homes.

There was also anger about non-availability of rations and essentials to many households in the containment zone, a densely populated area in west Bengaluru.

While initial reports said healthcare workers and police personnel were attacked, police later said there was no injury among officials who had gone to effectively implement the sealing of the ward.

However, the government had decided to take action against those who had tried to disrupt their work, and many of those taken into custody were moved to the neighbouring district in a bid to keep them away from the city.

At the time, former chief minister and senior JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy, whose wife Anitha is the MLA from Ramanagara, had objected to moving prisoners from a containment zone to a district that had not registered any COVID-19 case.

He had also pointed out that the Ramanagara jail is a very small one.

“They must shift all the prisoners from Ramanagara immediately. Else, I shall start a major protest,” Kumaraswamy wrote on Twitter late on Thursday night when news of the two prisoners’ Covid reports came to light.

“The Government’s hasty decision to move them to Ramanagara has led to this situation, when the district was one of the eight districts that had not a single case. Now, it has to face up to the possibility of many cases emerging, many people being exposed to the virus,” he further wrote, adding that all staff, including cleaning and cooking staff, at the jail must immediately be taken care of.

However, it may not just be the jail staff, numbering about 20-25, alone who may need the “care”.

On Monday, when these prisoners were moved to Ramanagara, the district deputy commissioner (collector), the superintendent of police, the district health officer and a few other officials were also present.

A police team had also helped in the transfer of the prisoners from Bengaluru to Ramanagara. The district now has to take a call on how many of the officials need to be isolated, and whether their families and perhaps neighbourhoods too need to be quarantined, considering the speed at which the virus spreads.

Besides, since the jail has only a few cells, about 14 to 15 prisoners were housed in each cell. While the two who have tested positive have been moved to a government hospital in Bengaluru now, there is a likelihood that more may test positive in coming days.

A number of town municipality officials too had visited the jail on Thursday to distribute masks and sanitisers. These officials and their families too may have to be quarantined. A decision on this is likely by Friday.

The entire episode may prove too costly for the state – that had prided in bringing the outbreak under control.

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