Pandemic spread keeps cops on the edge

As many as 28 police personnel at the Vazhakkulam station within the Muvattupuzha sub-division of the Ernakulam Rural police have been sent into quarantine, further driving home the danger of exposing the entire workforce to the pandemic simultaneously.

A writer at the station was initially tested positive in the antibody test, and a subsequent test of his swab samples confirmed that he was infected. This sent all, except four of his colleagues who were on airport duty, into quarantine. The station is now being run by 10 men deployed from a special unit at Aluva. The State Police Chief had directed to follow a rotational work arrangement, whereby 50% of the strength of every station was kept as reserve at any given time. District Police Chief (Ernakulam Rural) K. Karthik had issued a circular on July 13, directing the enforcement of this arrangement.

According to the circular, 50% of the workforce was to do continuous duty for a week and was to be replaced by the other half after a week. However, the arrangement was dropped abruptly. “Every department is working in full swing in the fight against the pandemic, and the police could not be any exception. The force is getting stretched with their ever-increasing responsibilities. These are extraordinary times, and it was near impossible to do with half the workforce,” said Mr. Karthik.

A Kerala Police Association office-bearer said at least one-third of the staff in every station could have been kept on reserve. This could have averted a situation like the one at Vazhakkulam. However, Mr. Karthik said even then the functioning of the station was not disrupted, as replacements were provided.

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