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How has RAB’s Covid-19 response succeeded among its officials?

  • Published at 11:30 am July 8th, 2020
Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) Director General (DG) Abdullah Al-Mamun
File photo: Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) Director General (DG) Abdullah Al-Mamun unveils an app for keeping RAB members updated with detailed information about Covid-19 cases within RAB forces on Monday, June 8, 2020 Courtesy

To date, RAB has reported no casualty from the virus

Covid-19 has spared no professionals, especially the frontliners, fighting the ongoing pandemic.

Law enforcers are one of the most vulnerable professionals and thousands of their members of police - from constables to high officials - have got infected by the virus. The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) has also made the list.

Despite around 15% -- over 1500 -- of its members having contracted Covid-19, the elite force have won the fight by reporting no casualties. 

RAB has always been reluctant to divulge data of the coronavirus infection inside the force. However, sources say that 80% of the infected members have already recovered.

The 10,000 strong force, controversial for its work at times, has clearly shown success in curbing the infection.

Moreover, the force pushed ahead in its operations and raids during this pandemic – especially on cases of forgeries and irregularities linked to Covid-19.

As the country tries to cope with mounting new cases and the police reports the highest number of infection yet in its force in Dhaka,  RAB claims to have reduced it to “zero infections” in the capital recently.

“Though the rate is higher outside, it is zero in Dhaka,” said, Lieutenant Colonel Sarwar Bin Kashem, director of the legal and media wing of RAB.

“The rate was higher in the beginning [of the pandemic], but was never alarming,” he added.

RAB reported the first positive case in the early stage of the pandemic in Bangladesh, but has however succeeded in managing the situation gradually.

How did RAB succeed?

From the beginning, the force brought its infected members to Dhaka, from different parts of the country, by using helicopters.

Instead of limiting activities, it continued to work in shifts where groups would work for consecutive 14 days, and later stay home the same time. However, the members were restricted from taking emergency leaves.

The elite force also increased its medical capacity by recruiting 15 more paramedics from the army and different nursing schools.

Moreover, 22 oxygen concentrators and 22 ventilators were added to the treatment system along with other medical equipment.

The infected were treated at Combined Military Hospital (CMH), Central Police Hospital in Rajarbagh, Impulse hospital, Holy Family Red Crescent Medical College Hospital, Bashundhara Community Centre and Ananda Community Centre under the management of RAB.

RAB claims to have installed CCTV camera on all of their infected members at the hospital, so that doctors can monitor them at all times. Moreover, a medical team and a “command channel” always kept an eye on them.

The patients were also provided with all the essentials they required or needed to recover quickly, so that the overall situation could be bought under control

The diabetic and heart patients in the force were kept separately from other members, in accordance to their age group, in order to protect them from getting infected. 

A central coronavirus control cell, which works 24/7, has been set up to monitor the coronavirus situation in the forces and to communicate with the others cells set up in each battalion across the country.

Moreover, they have developed an application which contains the details of all the patients and also notifies of their updates. 

RAB have also been making sanitizers and disinfectant tunnels for their own use

Like other forces, it has also changed the food menu of its members -- by providing more protein, provided zinc, vitamin C and calcium.

“Through changes in the daily lifestyle, and awareness, we have made a longtime plan—from following health guidelines to living in the lines,” said Lt Col Sarwar Bin Kashem.

After achieving success, RAB is now leaning towards its previous regular activities. 

“We never prioritized the numbers [of infected members], rather remained dedicated to our commitments and followed good morale,” said Lt Col Sarwar.

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