Kochi

Police gear up for strict health protocol enforcement

Having been given a greater role in the fight against the pandemic, the police are gearing up for ruthless enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines both inside and outside containment zones in their efforts to rein in the spread of the disease.

Contact-tracing, which the police are already doing, will be done more aggressively with more teams being roped in, if need be. Every police station has a team of at least three persons led by a Sub Inspector for tracing primary and secondary contacts of infected persons from a period dating back to 10 days from the day a person turns positive.

“Restricting the movements of primary and secondary contacts and their families so as to control disease spread will be the primary objective in containment zones, while maintenance of COVID guidelines like physical distancing and use of masks will be strictly enforced outside. Five months after the outbreak if people still cannot get the message, then there is no longer any room for leniency,” said K. Karthik, District Police Chief (Ernakulam Rural). He added that those flouting the guidelines could expect fines of up to ₹2,000 and even prosecution in the coming days.

Asked how the police could keep contact-tracing apace with the soaring number of positive cases numbering even in excess of 100, he said the fight against the pandemic remained the primary job of the police at the moment, and that more personnel would be roped in for the purpose. It is to ensure that government agencies in the frontline are not overwhelmed by uncontrolled surge in infections that more strict enforcement is needed, Mr. Karthik said.

Increased police presence was visible in the city, especially in the West Kochi area, which remains a containment zone in its entirety. “We have set up traffic regulation pickets at six major points in West Kochi over and above the traffic regulations held within each police station limits. Except for essential and emergency services, no other movements are allowed to and from containment zones. Essential items can be bought between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. or be door-delivered including under the Amrutham project of the police,” said G.D. Vijayakumar, Assistant Commissioner, Mattancherry.

Meanwhile, UDF convener Benny Behanan came down on the decision to entrust the police with the responsibility of containing COVID-19 spread, calling it “unscientific” and “irrational”. It will lead to Police Raj, he said.

Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samiti district president P.C. Jacob said the government was trying to save its skin by putting the onus of COVID-19 fight on the police. “No guidelines were issued regarding declaration of containment zones, and it will affect traders the most,” he added.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2020 9:27:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/police-gear-up-for-strict-health-protocol-enforcement/article32271870.ece

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