Frontline workers are among the most vulnerable groups in terms of getting infected with coronavirus at the time due to the nature of their work. Across states, we have seen a large number of people in the medical fraternity and the police personnel contracting the deadly virus. In Andhra Pradesh, around 2,100 police personnel have contracted the virus and 18 of them lost their lives to COVID-19. Andhra Pradesh has around 80,000 personnel in the police department, including home guards.
Speaking about the personnel infected, Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police (DGP), Gautam Sawang said, â€śIn the last seven weeks, around 2,100 police personnel have tested positive for coronavirus. Out of them, around 1,000 have recovered and 70% of them are back to work. 18 personnel have lost their lives. Ever since the lockdown was lifted and free movement of people began, we began witnessing an increase in the number of police personnel being infected. The police personnel are always out there, regulating people and constantly interacting with them. They are vulnerable and more exposed to the virus. Unlike doctors, police are not properly geared, they donâ€™t get to wear PPE suits while on duty. They have been provided masks, face shields, sanitisers etc but they are still more likely to contract the virus due to the very nature of the work.â€ť
Right from the beginning, the Andhra Pradesh Police have taken a slew of measures to ensure that those in the vulnerable group are protected, Sawang said. â€śIn the first week of lockdown itself, it was decided that all those aged 55 and above will be deployed only for backend work. We already had a database of those with comorbidities within the police department. A digital profiling is available and a survey was done. It was found that around 1,200 were in the high-risk category. The aim was to not expose them to the virus. All staff members and their families were given prophylactic (preventive) medicines and vitamins, zinc and other essential drugs. A helpline was set up for family members of police personnel and another one specially for police personnel. Reviews are carried out every morning and I am personally monitoring the numbers of our staff who are infected on a daily basis.â€ť
DGP Gautam Sawang during a review meeting
Once a police official is infected by the virus, the department makes an effort to instil confidence in them, they are also monitored by their unit officers. Video calls are done and concerned officers speak to them every alternate day to check their health conditions. The doctors in the police department have been entrusted the duty to actively and safely engage with those infected. A special team headed by an Additional Director General of Police has been given the responsibility to ensure they are well cared for. Everyone unit has a separate WhatsApp group as well.
Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy had announced Rs 50 lakh ex gratia to the family of an assistant sub-inspector who was the first to lose his life among police personnel after he contracted the virus. Within two days, the cheque was handed over to the family, the DGP said.
The government of Andhra Pradesh is presently contributing for insurance in case of death of police officials due to COVID-19 from the CMâ€™s relief fund. According to the DGP, this makes the policemen feel more secure, comfortable and more committed in Andhra Pradesh as they are well looked after and cared for.
Those who recover from COVID-19 fully and join back for duties are given a warm welcome by their respective departments, Sawang said. â€śThis is a very important part of what we do. The aim is to let people know that they have battled the virus and joined back, it helps to instil confidence in the minds of the people that this virus isnâ€™t as deadly as it is made to seem. The motto is to take care of the personnel so that they can recover and take care of the society. Any kind of demoralisation among police forces will affect order and stability in the society,â€ť he added.
Main image description: Andhra Pradesh DGP welcomes back Vikrant Patil, IPS, DCP Vijayawada City and M Deepika, IPS, Disha Special Officer who had recovered from COVID-19.
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