Assam: Concerns arise on personnel safety after police officials test positive

Assam: Concerns arise on personnel safety after police officials test positive

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As many as 12 police personnel attached to the Hatigaon police station in Guwahati, Assam, were quarantined after a detainee was tested positive for COVID-19. This came after an apprehended person was tested Covid19 positive. The accused, Gagan Rajbongshi, was arrested on June 9th, 2020 on allegations of him stealing gas cylinder and sent to Guwahati Central Jail on June 10th, 2020. Later, he was shifted to Tezpur jail. “His sample was tested positive for the COVID-19 on June 13th, 2020,” said Biren Deka, the Officer-in-charge of the aforementioned police station. The entire police station was sanitized and police personnel were quarantined at the Hotel Lily, located at Six Mile in Guwahati.

Meanwhile, a sub-inspector of the Panbazar Police in Guwahati, Assam was tested positive of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on June 13th, 2020. He was in quarantine at the Vishwaratna Hotel for the past four days after he claimed that he was not feeling well.

Following such cases has raised concerns about the preparedness of the security officials to tackle the corona pandemic without compromising themselves. Inside Northeast contacted  Commissioner of Police, Guwahati, Assam Munna Prasad Gupta to understand the situation.

"We have issued protocols and have supplied the masks to the personnel on the ground with the briefing". There have been concerns raised regarding the lack of protection of the security officials and in that respect, he said, "gloves can become counter-productive if not utilised properly and in terms of masks we have given them reusable ones". The police officials stand to be affected since it is difficult to maintain social distance in their line of work and Gupta duly accepts it. "You can't work from home when you are in Police. You have to extend your hands to the needy".

Also read: Assam: Huge cache of arms, ammunition recovered by Army

Ground reality in Assam

Inside Northeast contacted a security official who has been on ground ever since the outbreak of the pandemic. He spoke to our reporter on anonymity. "We are duty-bound and we have to do it and I not complaining". However, he raised about the lack of masks and regular supply of sanitizers. "We are not getting regular supply in terms of protective gears and it's just not enough". He even went on to say that these police personnel are resorting to taking "self-measures" to fight the pandemic. Sources within the force reveal that initially the sanitisers and masks were supplied by NGOs and in the coming days, the supply has been reduced.

The technical angle

Inside Northeast spoke to a medical doctor. On anonymity, she raised the key problems policemen face and how to go about it. "Policemen cannot stay at home and as such interact many people from close quarters. Doctors can make use of PPE kits but not all policemen in sensitive areas of duty can". This highlights the current picture for those on duty in sensitive areas like a containment zone.

To proceed ahead, "the bare minimum should be the supply of surgical gloves and maks to all", said the doctor. She also highlighted the need to increase general sensitivity among the security officials to limit exposure through knowledge of the virus.

Already in India, a lot of army men, CRPF and other security professionals have been affected by the covid19 pandemic. In Tripura, initially, a host of cases came from the BSF jawans. At a time when Guwahati has entered a 'crucial stage', cited by the state Health Minister, it becomes imperative to protect these frontline workers in Assam.

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Edited By: Admin
Published On: Jun 15, 2020