72 police personnel in Chennai returned to work on Monday after recovering from COVID-19. They were welcomed back to work by Chennai police commissioner Mahesh Kumar Aggarwal at the Commissioner's office in Vepery.
According to reports, 1,434 police personnel in Chennai had contracted the virus as of Monday and close to half of them have recovered. Asymptomatic policemen were being treated and monitored at a COVID-19 care centre in the Mahanadhi block of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. Three police personnel have so far succumbed to the virus in the city, according to reports. This includes an inspector from the Mamabalam police station, a special sub-inspector from the Pattinapakkam police station and a constable from the Vepery police station.
The state, as a whole, has seen over 3,000 police officers infected by the virus.
Officers in Chennai had earlier told TNM that several efforts were underway to protect police officials who had to step out for work from contracting COVID-19.
The measures that are being taken include unlimited supplies of gloves and masks at stations across the city. In addition to this, police are given a weekly supply of sanitisers for constant use and this was replenished when empty. However, while senior officials claim that Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) kits are given when police are out for arrests, personnel on the ground deny this.
They say that gloves and masks are used but the suit that medical professionals are seen wearing is not a part of the kit. COVID-19 tests are however conducted on the arrested persons. Police are told not to touch the accused directly and to maintain physical distancing even during interrogation.
However, there have been instances, where despite following these precautions, several police personnel were infected, like at Vadapalani station. In most cases now, police have stopped bringing the accused to the station unless it is unavoidable. And when they do, they give the accused person a mask and gloves as well, to limit contact.
And if the accused is staying overnight in the station, he is made to take a bath before being produced in front of the magistrate.