The prison authority in Siraha has banned regular prison visitations for the time being citing the growing spread of coronavirus and the possibility of inmates being infected by visitors or anything they receive as gift from outside.

"As we've been seeing increasing COVID cases in the district, stopping the practice of allowing inmates to receive visits from their kin and others is the right thing to do to save the inmates from the scourge," said the prison Chief Babita Mahato. Besides, amid the COVID risk, the prison administration has also stopped admitting new inmates now.

"Considering the risk, we've told other districts not to send any inmates here, apart from exceptional cases. Even with regard to those sent by the district court, we first have them COVID-tested," she said. According to Mahato, provisions have been made to keep new entrants in quarantine for 15 days before admitting them to the prison.

Earlier too, the prison administration had stopped prison visits altogether for about 10 months from March 2020 during the first wave of COVID crisis. This policy had been effective in staving off the contagion.

The prison has the capacity to house 150 inmates, but is currently accommodating 581 jailbirds, more than three times its capacity.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 6, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.