Agra: After the death of an inmate in Agra Central Jail due to COVID-19, the Uttar Pradesh Prison Administration and Reform Department has started random testing of samples for coronavirus in all the prisons of the state.

14 jail inmates were quarantined following the death of the prisoner on May 8, Anand Kumar, DG of the Department of Prisons Administration and Reform, said. He said 13 jail officials who looked after the barrack where the prisoner was lodged were also tested for COVID-19.

At present, there are 71 operational jails in Uttar Pradesh with over 94,000 inmates. So far, more than 16,000 inmates have been released either on bail or parole, Kumar said.

To boost the immunity level of the inmates, yoga sessions are being conducted in jails.

"The jail inmates are voluntarily attending the yoga classes. Yoga sessions are taking place in most of the jails as per the Ayush Ministry guidelines. 'Kaadhaa' is also being given to the inmates twice a day," Kumar said.

He also said that social distancing is being adhered to the extent possible in the jails.

"Even today, there are 94,000 inmates in jails against a capacity of 60,000. Overcrowding is a problem. We are still 1.5 times above the sanctioned capacity," he said.

Kumar said every jail inmate has two-three masks and the prisons are being fumigated and sanitised regularly.

"We are worried about older inmates whose immune systems are weak. There are around 4,000 convicted inmates who are above the age of 60. Barring exceptions, heinous offences and prohibited categories of crime, if these inmates can be released on interim parole for two months then overcrowding will come down in jails. Deliberations are also going on in this regard," Kumar said.