This is the first case in the state where an accused in police custody tested positive for COVID-19 through RT-PCR
Kohima: In a first, one accused under Nagaland police custody has tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. The accused was recently arrested by the Kohima Police on charges of highway extortion.
A highly placed source from the Nagaland Police confirmed with EastMojo that the arrested person, who was kept at the Zubza Police station, tested positive for COVID-19.
"This is the first instance where an accused is tested positive for COVID-19 by RT-PCR," the source said.
The police source said that in the past week there were two females who were arrested under the liquor prohibition Act and were initially tested positive on Truenat but the RT-PCR confirmatory result resulted negative. Out of another four persons who were held under the Arms Act, one tested positive on Truenat but RT-PCR test was declared as negative for COVID-19, the source informed.
The arrested person is said to have been shifted to a covid care centre. The source said that while the health of the accused needs to taken care of, security is to be provided to ensure that the person does not escape.
When asked about the mechanisms put in place for arrested persons under police custody, under trial prisoner (UTP) and convicts, the source said that "quarantine/isolation ward" has been identified in all jails, including the central jail where all "newly arrested persons" are kept for at least three weeks.
The High Power committee which was constituted as per the direction of the Supreme Court (SC) mandated that all arrested persons must undergo COVID-19 testing. If the newly arrested persons are asymptomatic and has other no underlying issues, the person is shifted to the general ward of prisoners, the source said.
"In Nagaland, there is no issue of overcrowding in jails. But since the Supreme Court has taken suo-moto cognizance, efforts have been made to ensure that mechanisms are put in place to ensure that there should be no overcrowding, and that there is complete segregation of those prisoners who have been arrested are positive and have been forwarded for judicial custody," the source added.
The source said that proposals to set up temporary jails, designated facility for female persons who test positive are on the pipeline which is to be sought from the state government.
When queried if the police stations where the arrested persons are first taken to is equipped with quarantine/isolation wards, the source said that there are no such facilities at the police stations, besides the prisons, and that there just the "lock-ups".
However, timely directives are issued to ensure that police personnel take abundant precautions. "When the police receive reports about the commissioning of crime, we cannot sit idle. We have to take action and when we go after them, they may turn out to be positive and these cases are very much possible. But, these are occupational hazards," the police source said.
A health official, on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the arrested person, who was tested for COVID-19, had tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday morning.
The official said that there is a separate SOP for persons under police custody, as it requires security. "For the medical fraternity, whether it is an under trial prisoners or anyone, they are patients to us and will be treated the same," the source said.
The arrested person was tested for COVID-19 as per protocol. So, when asked if the source of infection has been identified, the health official that the link will be established in a day or two. "But we already have enough evidences already that it is linked through traced contacts," the official said.
The health official revealed that the patient is a taxi driver who has been plying between Kohima and Dimapur and that two-three taxi drivers has already tested positive earlier. The health official clarified that there are instances where COVID-19 positive patients have not been able to recollect/identify all its contacts which also adds to the misery.
"But when we receive reports of positive patients, we trace contacts, retrospect and try to establish links. There are some scientific means of doing things and so far, we have been able to establish links of COVID-19 cases," the health official added.