Days after as many as 83 men were found to have contracted coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Hingoli unit of Maharashtra State Reserve Police Force (SRPF), 72 personnel from its Aurangabad unit tested positive for the virus on Friday, taking the total number of cases in the SRPF to 256, while the number of cases in state police force rose to 618.
The deployment of SRPF companies in Malegaon city, which has emerged as a COVID-19 hotspot, is a source of serious concern for officials. All the 72 personnel whose tests were conducted on Thursday, and whose results came back positive on Friday, were part of a 110-strong company of the SRPF which had returned from its deployment in Malegaon.
In the case of the Hingoli unit, 83 personnel from two companies which were deployed in Malegaon and Mumbai, another city with hundreds of COVID-19 cases, had tested positive.
The Aurangabad unit of the SRPF had deployed one company in Malegaon to help out in efforts to contain the pandemic. The company repatriated to its unit on Thursday and all the personnel underwent swab tests. The results came back positive for 72 men on Friday morning. All of them are already in isolation and those with symptoms are being treated in a hospital.
In addition to the seven persons from Aurangabad unit who had tested positive earlier, the detection of 72 new cases has taken the total count in the Aurangabad unit to 79, said an official.
Aurangabad District Civil Surgeon Dr Sundar Kulkarni confirmed that 72 of the 110 samples taken on Thursday evening from SRPF personnel have tested positive.
Additional Director General of Police with SRPF, Archana Tyagi, said, “As a precautionary measure, we have started conducting tests of all personnel from the companies deployed in high COVID-prevalence areas in Maharashtra. These increasing numbers are a result of proactive testing that we are doing. As they are physically fit, most of the COVID-19 positive personnel are asymptomatic and those showing symptoms are getting the best possible medical treatment. On a positive note, eight personnel who were earlier COVID-19 positive, have now tested negative in two tests.”
Among the total 256 COVID-19 affected personnel, 83 are in Hingoli, 79 in Aurangabad, 43 in Jalna, and 21 from the Pune unit, who are stationed at Mumbai, and remaining from other units.
“I have personally reviewed arrangements for the SRPF companies in Malegaon. We are doing an analysis of what has led to a large number of infections among those deployed in Malegaon and Mumbai. All the possible precautions are already being taken at every level as per ICMR guidelines,” said Tyagi.
At the moment, nearly 50 companies of SRPF are deployed in COVID-related duties across Maharashtra. Majority of them are in high-risk areas like Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Malegaon and Aurangabad. The demand for SRPF companies as an additional force for various police units in the state is constantly rising, said an officer.
SRPF officials told The Indian Express that following the detection of a large number of cases among the force, full companies are still being deployed at one location, but they are transported, accommodated and placed on duty in smaller units.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the state police was 618 as on Friday, which included 71 officers and 547 constables. Of these, nine officers and 47 constables have recovered, but five police personnel have succumbed to the infection.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines