JPP concerned over lack of transparency in Covid-19 reporting in prisons

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Staff Reporter

Several human rights organizations have raised concerns about lack of transparency in the reporting of Covid-19 infections in Pakistani prisons, said the Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) – a private organization working for welfare of prisoners in a statement on Saturday.
According to the statement, when the first Pakistani prisoner tested positive for Covid-19 on March 24 inside Lahore’s Camp Jail, authorities were quick to respond as they turned the prison into an isolation centre and conducted tests of all the prisoners who had come into contact with patient zero.
“By April 6, authorities reported 50 cases from the jail. By April 15, there were 59. The infection rate in the jail was 19.33/1000, much higher than the 0.09/1000 rate in the city of Lahore,” it said.
The JPP said later different authorities in Punjab started providing information about more cases emerging in other cities. By April 21, Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department (PSHD) was reporting that the total number of infections among prisoners in the province stood at 97.
After April 21, the health department brought down the figure from 97 to 86 without any explanation.
“Recently, the spokesperson for Prison Department, Punjab claimed, ‘78 prisoners and jail staff have tested positive for Covid-19’ which is surprising because the same day, the prison health department reported 86 cases in its daily breakdown,” It added.
According to the statement, Karachi Central Jail has also become a Covid-19 hotbed with 40 cases emerging on May 18, and a staggering 212 the following day. Nine wardens have also tested positive.
The statement said more than 48,300 prisoners have contracted the novel Covid-19 virus in 67 countries across the globe. At least 840 have died.