• Wednesday, May 27, 2020
  • Last Update : 01:08 am

Coronavirus pandemic: What are we doing to keep our police force safe?

  • Published at 12:33 am March 28th, 2020
Traffic police in Shahbagh Rajib Dhar
Traffic police personnel flag down rickshaw pullers and motorcycle riders at Shahbagh intersection in Dhaka on Friday, March 27, 2020 Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

Covid-19, a new strain of coronavirus, has so far killed more than 19,500 people in over 190 countries and territories including five in Bangladesh

Police, all across Bangladesh, has been working relentlessly to maintain law and order, and implement government directives and initiatives to com- bat the coronavirus pandemic.

They are, after health officials, the first ones to respond to any situation related to Covid-19 while facilitating the imposed lockdowns, quarantine (institutional, home), and isolation orders across the country.

They also have been assisting government and non-government bodies to operate smoothly amid the outbreak.

Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) till Wednesday confirmed a total of 39 coronavirus cases.

Covid-19, a new strain of coronavirus, has so far killed more than 19,500 people in over 190 countries and territories including five in Bangladesh.

On Saturday, as the concerned authorities were forced to ask 32 families in Mirpur to limit their movement following the second coronavirus death in Bangladesh, a number of police officials were tasked to ensure that.

Then on Sunday, after the confirmation of the third death caused by Covid-19 in the same area, police patrolling was increased so that people stayed indoors and the spread of the virus could be controlled.

Police personnel stationed at Mirpur as well as at various institutions and locations including public hospitals and immigration points of the country are at high risk of getting infected by Covid-19 as they are carrying out their duties with minimum or no protection from the virus.

When contacted, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Mirpur Division’s Additional Deputy Commissioner Mahmuda Afroz Lucky said that they have instructed their subordinates to operate with caution in the capital’s

Tolarbag area which is currently under lockdown.

“The policemen working there have been told to use face masks and gloves while on duty,” she added.

According to police sources, the force is trying to prioritize their operations keeping the coronavirus crisis at the top of the list.

Officials at the Police Headquarters told Dhaka Tribune that those who are working on the  eld have been instructed to give the highest priority to their self-preservation and hygiene while serving the country’s interest.

Police stations, barracks at high risk

During separate visits to di erent police stations and barracks in Dhaka, the correspondents saw that most of them, especially those who were on duty, wearing no personal protection equipment (PPE).

However, at the Rajarbagh Police Lines, the body temperature of constables staying there was being checked with a thermal scanner upon arrival from duty.

More or less all the residents of the barrack were seen washing their hands, legs and using sanitizers to stay safe from the virus.

Although, no police official till now has been tested positive for Covid-19, yet anyone su ering from fever and showing any symptoms related to the virus is quickly being separated from the rest and hospitalized.

Whereas, a total of 140 police officials live in the barrack of Tejgaon industrial police station and the place is so overcrowded that seven people has to share one room.

“What can we do? We have a shortage of rooms here, forcing us to live like this,” said Tejgaon industrial police station OC Md Ali Hossain Khan.

Meanwhile, soaps and sanitizers were kept available for police members and anyone entering the establishments of Ramna, Paltan model, Shahbagh, Mohammadpur, and Tejgaon industrial police station.

But while talking to Dhaka Tribune, a number of high level police officials said that they lack an adequate number of protective gears to operate in this situation adding that they are arranging supplies on their own to first meet the demand of their  eld level officers and subordinates.

Paltan police station OC Abu Bakkar Siddique said: “We get a lot of calls from the relatives and neighbours of overseas returnees. Responding to which we immediately send our forces to the spot.”

“We, till Monday, have received information regarding 79 expatriates of which 29 have already left the country. 

The other 12 are now at their respective villages and houses of relatives. The rest of them are under quarantine,” he said.

Fearing the spread of the virus that has already killed  five people till Wednesday, Tejgaon industrial police station OC Ali said they have been decreasing the number of raids to arrest criminals.

“We are trying to avoid catching criminals for a few days to avoid the spread of coronavirus since, in this situation, we are as vulnerable as doctors and nurses,” he added.

Echoing the same, Mohammadpur police station OC Abdul Latif said: “We are not arresting anyone unless it is absolutely necessary. We are detaining only those who are accused indifferent cases and also drug abusers.”

Several police o cials working in immigration at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA), while seeking anonymity, said that they are indeed using protective gears but claimed that those are not enough for protection from the highly contagious virus.

Those working under the tra c department of DMP said they are under no less threat of coronavirus as they have to stay outside of their homes and on the roads managing tra c during their duty hours.

Assistant Inspector General (Media) of Police Headquarters Md Sohel Rana, said: “All the police officials have been instructed to perform their duties carefully while maintaining personal hygiene.”

However, he admitted that they need more PPE and hygiene materials for staying safe from the coronavirus.

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