741 police infected, five dead in the country
The ongoing coronavirus crisis is taking a heavy toll on police in Bangladesh, with at least 741 officers diagnosed with Covid-19 and five deaths reported as of yesterday morning.
Of the five policemen who have died, two died in Dhaka in the last 48 hours.
The authorities detected 232 new cases in the 24 hours till yesterday morning. Of all cases detected, 356 are from the Dhaka Metropolitan Police alone, according to sources at Police Headquarters.
57 policemen have so far recovered, while 1,250 policemen are still in quarantine and 174 are in isolation, the sources added.
Police are the second most affected by Covid-19 in Bangladesh, with the number of infected health workers crossing 1,000 on Thursday.
Two new deaths
DMP Sub-Inspector (SI) Sultanul Arefin, 44, undergoing treatment at Central Police Hospital (CPH) in the capital’s Rajarbagh, passed away at the intensive care unit around 7am yesterday.
As of yesterday, 528 other infected police personnel were also undergoing treatment at the hospital, said Dr Md Emdadul Haque, superintendent of police at CPH, to Dhaka Tribune.
Sultanul, attached to the West Division of Police Order Management (POM) at Mirpur, was the fifth officer of Bangladesh Police to pass away from the deadly disease, according to an official statement.
He is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son. His body has already been sent to his village home in Jamalpur.
On Friday, Sub-Inspector Nazir Uddin, 55, who was a sub-inspector of the Special Branch of police, passed away at the same hospital in Dhaka.
Nazir was from Kazitola village of Bhangura upazila in Pabna.
His first Namaz-e-Janaza was held at Rajarbagh later on Friday morning, and his body was sent to his village home for burial under the management of police.
Earlier, Assistant SI Abdul Khalek of POM, Constable Ashek Mahmud of Dhaka North Traffic Division, and Constable Mohammad Jasim Uddin of Wari Division, died from the disease in the capital.
What is making police so vulnerable?
According to police sources, policemen who have tested positive for Covid-19 were mostly on duty to ensure social distancing. Ironically, they have failed to maintain such distancing measures themselves, whether in the line of duty or in the barracks where they reside.
Furthermore, a lack of protective gear has left them vulnerable to the infection.
The barracks at Rajarbagh Police Lines, where a significant number of police officers live, do not have the conditions needed to maintain social distancing. The situation is quite the same at other police barracks or messes across Bangladesh.
Also, since there is no private transport for most constables, they are moving from one place to another with many others on police trucks and vans.
Dr Nazrul Islam, noted virologist and former vice chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), earlier told Dhaka Tribune that police officials were currently being infected in higher numbers as they were placed on duty among the general public to ensure social distancing.
“First, they have to learn about maintaining social distancing themselves. A disciplined life and nutrient rich food are a must. Otherwise, all the inadequacies together can act as a barrier to maintaining law and order,” he said.
Assistant Inspector General (AIG) at Police Headquarters (Media), Md Sohel Rana, said more than 200,000 members of Bangladesh Police are out in the field to protect citizens and the authorities are trying to ensure the protection of police members as well.
Those on duty should also be made aware that they can protect themselves by maintaining personal hygiene while performing their duties, he added.
“We are ensuring that the infected among police, receive proper treatment at hospitals. Senior officials and their line chiefs are visiting the hospital to keep them motivated,” he continued.
The AIG added that various instructions and guidelines on how to maintain personal hygiene during the coronavirus pandemic had been given to police personnel by the government and senior police officials.
“They have been provided with masks and hand gloves. Adequate disinfectants are used in the offices and barracks where they live, in addition to an emphasis on social distancing,” AIG Sohel said.
Our Staff Reporter Arifur Rahman Rabbi contributed to this report