Faced with a steady increase in Covid-19 cases among its frontline personnel, police units in Maharashtra have begun setting up their own Covid Care Centres (CCCs) to house and monitor asymptomatic personnel.
The CCCs are being developed as per a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) developed by the Navi Mumbai Police for an “exclusive quarantine centre for police officers, policemen/policewomen”. The SOP, which was sent to police units across the state last week, makes it clear why the police department needs to develop its own quarantine centres.
“Since asking for priority in treatment in government-run hospitals creates unnecessary ill-will among government departments, an exclusive arrangement for the police force is thought of,” states the SOP.
Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Kumar said that the death of a police constable in April after being refused admission by two hospitals, citing a lack of beds, prompted him to set up his own CCCs. Kumar identified three buildings in the city where suspected and asymptomatic Covid personnel could be housed and monitored, so as not to overburden government and private hospitals.
“The other concern was that in the two days it takes for a test result to be known, our people can also infect their families who live in 650 sq ft homes in police quarters, and others,” he said.
At present, a three-storey building with 40 beds houses 26 suspected and asymptomatic individuals. Male and female personnel who have tested positive are housed on separate floors and those with symptoms awaiting test results on another. So far, there has been no need to utilise the other two buildings.
Doctors from the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation check on the patients daily while a private caterer has been engaged to supply nutritious food to the patients.
Kumar added that while the Thane and Raigad district Collectors funded setting up the centres, the police department used its welfare funds to purchase food for its quarantined personnel.
For police personnel with serious infections, the police have also reserved 25 beds at the D Y Patil Hospital in Nerul, said Kumar. “Since setting up the CCCs, we have managed to avoid conflicts with the municipal corporation and hospitals over admitting our people for treatment,” Kumar added.
Similar CCCs have also been set up by the Mumbai Police and State Reserve Police Force units in Hingoli, Jalna and Nagpur.
A senior Maharashtra Police officer said that being quarantined in centres run by the department also puts infected personnel at ease.
“Our people feel that they will be better taken care of at our own centres. Other institutional quarantine centres can be quite impersonal. At police-run CCCs, our people are in quarantine with their colleagues,” said the official.
In Mumbai, CCCs were set up last month at the Police Gymkhana at Marine Drive and buildings at the Local Arms department complex in Marol and at a building in Kalina, which was built as accommodation for police personnel and their families. A senior Mumbai Police officer said that since the last 15 days, no infected personnel were sent to quarantine centres run by the BMC.
“We have 850 beds in the three buildings. The BMC has been of great support to us in providing us with doctors and nurses to work at the centres,” he said.
Senior police officials in Mumbai, where police personnel in critical condition have also been turned away by hospitals, denied that there was any “ill-will” towards the BMC and private hospitals as a result. Of the Maharashtra Police’s tally of more than 2,560 infected personnel, the Mumbai Police accounts for more than 1,500. As of Tuesday, 1,479 police personnel in the state had active infections while 28 have died.
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