Kerala

Police officers above 50 to be off the field

Kerala, Palakkad,01/08/2020 Police officers wearing transparent protective plastic full face shield Mask for protection from splash and splatter during their duties in the wake of increasing COVID -19 positive cases in the Palakkad district. Photo: K. K.Mustafah.

Kerala, Palakkad,01/08/2020 Police officers wearing transparent protective plastic full face shield Mask for protection from splash and splatter during their duties in the wake of increasing COVID -19 positive cases in the Palakkad district. Photo: K. K.Mustafah.  

The death of a police officer in a hospital in Kottayam on Saturday following complications caused by COVID-19 has prompted State Police Chief Loknath Behera to order police officers above the age of 50 years off the field. Instead, he has deployed them for office duty to lessen their chance of exposure to the coronavirus.

An initial report indicated that T.V. Ajithan, 54, the intelligence officer stationed in Idukki, contracted the infection from his wife.

However, the police top brass does not want to leave them to any risks. Mr. Behera also ordered officers with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, asthma and cardiac ailment off the field irrespective of their age.

Immuno-compromised officers under treatment for other diseases should not report for duty and could work from home, if required.

As of Thursday, 95 police officers have tested positive for COVID-19. The police closed their State headquarters here till August 3 for cleaning after an officer staffing the reception desk developed COVID-19.

The spate of anti-government agitations in July drastically escalated the risk faced by officers. Law enforcers tasked to police the demonstrations exposed themselves to the risk of contagion greatly. Several officers who grappled with the protesters on the street and herded them later tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

At high risk

An official said officers cooped up in crowded and climate-controlled control rooms faced a high risk of infection. Most worked for long hours and handled the same set of telephones and other communication equipment.

A senior official said the breach of physical-distancing norms on a large scale, as witnessed during political protests, funerals, weddings, prayer meetings, and supermarkets was perilous to police functioning in the long run. If the public did not observe the COVID-19 protocol, the coronavirus would incrementally whittle down the number of officers available for law and order duty in Kerala, he said.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2020 4:00:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/behera-orders-police-officers-above-50-off-the-field/article32248671.ece

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