Mumbai Police has launched a new 24/7 helpline number for its staff, in which personnel who have symptoms of COVID-19 and have been refused admission in hospitals, can call to seek help.
The helpline was launched on Sunday for the 50,000-strong force, which has lost three of its constabulary-ranked employees to the virus since Friday.
On the first two days after the launch, the helpline received 94 calls from personnel across the city seeking information about the virus. In 10 cases, the callers sought help in getting admitted to a hospital.
A senior IPS officer said, “This is a temporary set-up. The helpline was launched after we came across cases where personnel, who have been infected, were refused admission in hospitals.”
The helpline, comprising two officer-rank policemen, four constables and two doctors, are operating from the Mumbai Police headquarters.
They have been divided into two teams, each working 12-hour shifts. They shall keep a tab on the number of empty beds in each hospital across the city. Accordingly, they are responsible for guiding the ailing personnel to the nearest available hospital and facilitating his or her admission. Also, the doctor on the helpline will answer queries related to COVID-19.
“Additional commissioners of police have been told to appoint a nodal officer, who will keep a tab on the availability of beds in hospitals at their respective regions, and inform the helpline officials,” added the IPS officer.
Recently, a constable had posted a video on social media, after multiple hospitals refused him admission. A hospital even refused to provide him an ambulance to him to take him to another hospital. In the video, the constable had said that he was posted in a hotspot in Wadala, from where he contracted the infection.
Till Monday, 68 police personnel have tested positive, of which five have recovered and three have died.
Around 1,250 have been told to observe home quarantine.
The police on Saturday had issued a notification informing that a provision has been made for its personnel and their family members to undergo COVID-19 tests and hospitalisation, if necessary, free of cost, at five hospitals. They are Bombay hospital, S L Raheja hospital, Fortis hospital in Mulund, Seven Hills hospital and Hiranandani hospital.
Mumbai Police spokesperson Pranaya Ashok said that all personnel above 55 years of age and those above 52 who are suffering from medical conditions like diabetes and hypertension among others have also been asked to stay at home.
“Amenities like food packets, ration, hot water flasks and pandals at check points are being provided to all personnel on frontline. Accommodation facilities are also being provided to all personnel who wish to stay back,” Ashok added.
The department has so far provided hydroxychloroquine tablets for 12,000 personnel, and multivitamin and protein supplements for 20,000 personnel.