There is a shrill call by the police for dedicated first-line treatment centres (FLTCs) both for police personnel and the accused testing positive for SARS-COV-2 as their numbers keep rising.
With over 60 active positive cases in the city police and 21 in the rural police, not to mention nearly 200 cops in quarantine after having come into contact with the infected, the Kerala Police Association (KPA) has raised such a demand with District Police Chiefs and the District Collector.
“We have identified a private hostel near the Kaloor stadium as a potential FLTC for infected cops from the city limits and the recommendation has been forwarded to the Collector. The Collector has to declare it as the FLTC for it to get the service of doctor and paramedical staff and, other facilities,” said N.V. Nishad, district secretary (Kochi City), KPA.
As of now, the majority of the infected cops are isolating themselves in their homes and only those who cannot afford it are undergoing treatment at FLTCs opened by various local bodies. The police had opened dedicated quarantine centres for their personnel when the case loaded started surging months ago but even that had attracted complaints about inadequate facilities.
The increasing instances of the accused testing positive and even jumping custody exploiting the scant security and surveillance at the FLTC being run at the convention centre of the Kochi airport where they are now being put up along with the infected from the general public has led to the demand for a separate facility for the accused as well. “It creates twin issues of putting cops in danger of getting infected by the accused as they either have to intervene to thwart escape bids or recapture the accused besides facing the prospects of suspension in the event the accused managing to flee,” said M.V. Sanil, district secretary (Ernakulam Rural), KPA. Two cops remain under suspension after Suresh aka ‘Dracula’ Suresh, a serial robber, jumped custody multiple times.
The police have tentatively identified a portion of a COVID centre being run at NUALS at Kalamasserry as a potential facility for keeping the infected accused from both the city and rural limits. “There is a compound wall enabling adequate security of the accused unlike the FLTC at the Kochi airport with multiple exits and entry points, and where the police are dependent on health workers to monitor the accused,” said Mr. Nishad.
Though the police have not openly raised it, there is a sentiment among large sections of the force to scale down their role in quarantine checking and contact tracing now that the numbers are too high for such a system to be practical and cops are also getting infected at a rapid rate, affecting their routine policing duties.