Police personnel, a part of the frontline fighters tackling the deadly Covid-19 pandemic in the country, are getting infected by the novel coronavirus at an alarming rate.
As of Thursday, 536 members of the police have tested positive for the coronavirus across the country.
Among them, 116 policemen were identified from Wednesday 12pm to Thursday 12pm, while performing their duties and serving the people in line with government instructions.
So far, three policemen have died of the disease and two of them were constables, which is a matter of grave concern.
The deceased police personnel are Abdul Khalek, 36, assistant sub inspector of the Police Order Management (PMO), Ashek Mahmud, 42, constable of the traffic north division and Jasim Uddin, constable of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
"All measures are being taken as per the advice of doctors to lower the chance of coronavirus infection among the police personnel," DMP Commissioner Shafiqul Islam told the Business Standard.
The senior police official added, "Police constables are doing the riskiest jobs, such as burying deceased coronavirus patients and taking the infected people to hospitals. Because they are regularly coming into contact with coronavirus patients, more of them are getting infected.
"Constables working on the frontlines need the highest protection against Covid-19."
Besides, constables are working in patrol teams, and at check-posts and traffic signal points. Many of them are getting infected by the virus for lack of protective equipment and adequate social distancing measures, police sources have said.
Most constables live in police barracks and around 12 policemen live in a single room. This is also a major reason behind the spike in the number of infected police personnel.
According to DMP sources, the police are maintaining makeshift isolation centres for their infected personnel in hotels, schools and colleges. Twenty-five DMP constables are currently isolated at Shiddeshwari Girls' High School in the capital.
They are using common toilets, leading to an increasing number of cases among police constables.
Besides, the infected police personnel are being treated at the Rajarbag Police Hospital, but the facility is reportedly not sufficient enough to tackle the increasing number of patients.
Among the 536 infected policemen, 260 are members of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police. As of Thursday, 1,260 police personnel have been put under quarantine, while 53 others fully recovered from the novel coronavirus.
10 policemen test positive in Chattogram
Amid the daily new infections among policemen in Dhaka and Narayanganj, 10 policemen in Chattogram also tested positive for the novel coronavirus as of Wednesday.
Of the coronavirus positive cops, eight are members of traffic police, one is from the city's SAF unit, and the other one is from RAB-7. Many of them have shown no symptoms of Covid-19, making law enforcement officials anxious about social transmission.
The coronavirus positive cops have been admitted to the Dampara Metropolitan Police Line Hospital, while those currently awaiting test results have been sent to different hotels and convention centres to curb social transmission and maintain social distancing.
"All the eight traffic policemen are well now," said Mohammad Shahidullah, deputy commissioner (traffic north) of Chattogram Metropolitan Police (CMP).
"They do not have any Covid-19 symptom other than fever in some of them. The infection has been caused by community transmission as they stayed together."
Policemen are contracting the virus by coming in contact with infected persons, he noted, adding those who work in check-posts have been sent personal protective equipment (PPE).
All the eight traffic policemen stayed in the traffic barrack in Dampara Police Lines and they are said to have contracted the virus from an elderly member – the first policeman in Chattogram who tested positive for Covid-19 on April 12.
He was over 50 years old. The barrack was locked down that very day.
The CMP has quarantined all its members who had come in contact with him. Thirty-three rooms in CMP School and College and 20 isolation units in Dampara Divisional Police Hospital have been prepared. Besides, there is a 16-bed flu corner.
Moreover, to maintain physical distance in Dampara Police Lines Barrack, policemen have been transferred to various hotels and convention centres.
So far, 33 members have been transferred to Chawkbazar's Hotel Fresh Inn and 10 have been moved to a hotel in Sadarghat area. Some of them have been moved to Monsurabad Police Lines.
Besides, 73 policemen have been transferred to the GEC Convention Centre.
Samples of 63 police members who had come in contact with the Covid-19 patient were sent for tests. Test reports of 29 members have been received and nine of them tested positive.
As a precaution, 60 members of the CMP have been kept under institutional quarantine, in isolation wards and flu corners, Mohammad Shahidullah said.
Meanwhile, samples of 30 RAB members have been collected after a RAB member tested positive on Monday, said a RAB-7 higher official.