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How are policemen battling Covid-19?

  • Published at 03:13 pm May 12th, 2020
Empty dhaka streets-zakir-police
Driver of a CNG driven three-wheeler performs squat in front of a police official during the coronavirus pandemic on March 26, 2020 Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Police, the most vulnerable in this coronavirus outbreak

Police are involved in all kinds of work including transporting patients to hospitals, burying the dead, and delivering food to people's homes as frontline warriors to handle the Covid-19 situation.

They have also been working tirelessly to enforce the provisions of the lockdown to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, besides their daily routine work to keep the country safe.

And while doing these things, the number of Covid-19 positive police members are increasing everyday. 

According to the Police Headquarters till May 11, 1,756 police members have been infected so far. Among them, Dhaka Metropolitan Police members have been infected the most with 810 members.

In addition, this deadly virus has taken the lives of 7 police members. A total of 4,803 police personnel are in home and institutional quarantine, and 165 members have recovered from the Covid-19 till now.

Police, most vulnerable in this pandemic

After speaking to different levels of policemen, mixed reactions were found, but everyone agreed that they are at high risk of getting infected with Covid-19.

When the DMP commissioner was asked about the condition of police, he said: "Consciously, we are at risk."

DMP Commissioner Md. Shafiqul Islam said the people are not sincerely abiding by the provisions of the home quarantine. “We are being infected by trying to keep them at home and keep them in discipline.

“So again when I come back to the barracks, my colleagues are being infected by me. When I go home again, my family is being infected,” he said, mentioning the plight of general police members.

“We are actually at risk. But we have not lost our morale. We are working with courage,” he further said. 

The commissioner also said strict safety measures were taken for those who are working on the field. And all measures have been taken to treat those affected.

Staying at hotels to avoid infecting family, colleagues

Police members said many of the police members live together in the barracks’ congested area. Although now in the Covid-19 situation, they are staying at the barracks by keeping distance. Others have been accommodated in different hotels or community centres. 

Many police members cannot go to their homes for a long time, because their families could be affected. Arrangements have been made for them to stay in several residential hotels in the capital. 

However, questions have been raised about the quality of hotels.

Police members alleged that many hotels do not have their employees available. So they have to do other work including cleaning the room themselves. 

Isolation treatment arrangements have been made at Siddheswari College, apart from the Central Police Hospital in Rajarbagh. Since it is a college, there is only a little problem in using the bathroom, said some policemen. But they are satisfied with everything else like treatment and food items.

Some police constables said they are working in this critical time of the country with the great oath they took to provide service. 

Despite some difficulties, their unit chief and other officers are always keeping in touch and gathering updates from time to time. If they need something, they (unit chiefs) are trying to provide them to their best.

Direct public interaction, reason for high number of infection

Speaking to different police members working at different check-posts and on the field, they said, they are working directly with the general people on the streets. They have to talk to people. They have to go to people’s homes to ensure quarantine and isolation, which is a big reason behind the increasing number of policemen getting infected with Covid-19.

They have to go to the different markets to control the prices of goods. When people of other professions, including garment workers, protest on the roads, they have to perform their duties amid the situation to tackle protestors, a police person said.

They said they are also doing the burial of patients who died of Covid-19. Also, police are the first responders in road accidents or other accidents.

Because of the professional diversity police personnel have to live with some additional risks. Due to this, the rate of corona infection in police is high.

Md Sohel Rana, the assistant inspector general (AIG- Media) of the Police Headquarters, said maintaining law and order, protecting the general public from the Covid-19 infection, and at the same time protecting their own members and treating the affected policemen with medical treatment, is a big challenge for the police force.

The police are under extra pressure as they are facing a tough time in managing their work and keeping themselves safe at the same time. Even then, the members of the police are working with a very sacrificial and patriotic attitude, he added.