The paranoia created by the COVID-19 outbreak has led to the Mumbai Police’s Control Room being flooded with calls since the last week, wherein people are calling to give information about individuals who they think have been infected.
The Mumbai Police Control Room has around 50 officials manning its helpline 24 hours a day. Mumbai police spokesperson DCP Pranaya Ashok said the control room receives 5,000 calls a day, and as people have been asked to work from home, the regular calls for traffic congestion and fights on the road have been replaced with calls related to the disease.
Police said that as the outbreak of the virus is increasing in Mumbai, there is still a lot of confusion as to what should be done in this time and what shouldn’t, and that the simplest solution is to dial the number 100.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Prashant Marde said, “We won’t be able to provide the exact number of calls we have been getting in one day, as we are not keeping data of how many calls we receive related to the virus. However, whenever we receive a call, we provide them with the BMC’s helpline number.”
A caller recently reached out to the police to inform them that there is a person in their neighbourhood who has returned from Dubai and despite having a BMC (self-quarantine) stamp on his hand, the person has been roaming freely. He further asked police to take stern action against him.
Another person tweeted to the Mumbai police, saying “Boy who has landed from Dubai last night with a stamp on his hand 14 day quarantine. He has washed the stamp and is roaming in Colaba market. Please catch him.”
To this, Ashok said, “Following such calls and tweets from citizens, we are informing the local police stations who are going to their respective area and requesting them to self-isolate. If they don’t listen to us, we have been inform local wards of BMC as they have the right to take action.”
Apart from requesting people to quarantine themselves, police also have the task of counselling these callers.
A person called the helpline number and said, “I am standing at my window right now, I can see a few foreign nationals roaming without masks on the road. Please do something about it.”
Another caller who was a cab driver called and said, “There are a few foreign nationals who are seated in my car, what should I do?”
“We have to counsel these callers,” an officer said. “In the case of the cab driver, we asked him whether foreigners were taking precaution of wearing masks and carrying sanitisers and when he said yes, we told him that not every foreigner is infected…”
People have also taken to twitter to complain against their employers after they are forced to come to office, despite the government’s announcement to have 50 per cent staff strength in the office. Private companies have given permission for employees to work from home, but many employers are still calling their staff to office.
Ashok said, “After we are tagged in such tweets, we then ask for the location of the work place and the concerned police station is informed. Officials are then requested to evacuate. We have not faced any problem as yet, but in case we do, we will intimate the BMC office and take legal action.”
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