Police officers tasked with ensuring the safety of citizens on the ground are growing increasingly susceptible to the coronavirus as infections continue to trend upwards within the law enforcement agency's ranks during the government-enforced nationwide shutdown, bdnews24.com reports.
COVID-19 cases among policemen have doubled to 1,189 in less than a week while claiming five lives so far.
Among the infected, 576 are members of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said an official of the Police Headquarters.
Another 1,260 policemen are currently quarantined while 89 are isolated. At least 85 policemen have recovered from the illness so far.
Data from the past few days reveal that the infection rate is rising sharply within the law-enforcement agency.
The number of infections among policemen jumped to 741 on Saturday, up from 677 the day before. The cases continued its upward trajectory on the following days before shooting up to 1,189 on Tuesday with a daily leap of 275 cases.
“Policing is a unique profession. Policemen have to mingle with the common people which is not the case in any other profession. This trait has become a significant contributing factor to the current predicament,” Assistant Inspector General Sohel Rana wrote on the Facebook page of Bangladesh Police.
Police have to go door to door to ensure that people are following the home quarantine and isolation norms, he said.
“They have to work closely with others. Police are helping people reach hospitals. Sometimes they are working in the markets to prevent price-gouging. They are working on the field whenever there is any protest.”
“Even when someone dies from the coronavirus, policemen are the ones who come forward to arrange their burial or cremation. Therefore, they are always at risk.”
It is not always possible for law-enforcement personnel to equip themselves with the protective gear, particularly when they have to respond to emergency situations, said AIG Sohel.
“The protective gear we have doesn't provide enough safety. We are always exposed to the risk of contagion. The nature of our job is such that we are always at high risk.”
Noting the rapid spread of the infection among police officers, he continued, “Policemen reside in cramped spaces in the barracks or police lines. Although we’re trying our best to alleviate the situation, these places are still overcrowded and thus poses a risk to their safety.”
“We’re trying to ensure that they strictly follow the social distancing and hygiene rules.”
Police should take more care to safeguard themselves from the risk of infection, said Additional Commissioner Krishnapada Roy.
“They must wear a mask at all times and maintain physical distance from others. They must not touch their faces.”
If infected, a policeman should not lose heart but confront the situation with courage, said Arun Chakma, who became the first policeman in Chattogram to contract the novel coronavirus.
In a message to his colleagues upon being discharged from hospital, Arun said, “Anybody can get infected but we should not be afraid. We can’t lose our confidence at this time.”
Bangladesh reported its first cases of the novel coronavirus on March 08. Since then, the number of infections has spiralled to 10,929 with 183 deaths until Tuesday.
The police’s infection rate is higher than any other profession’s in the country.