The current coronavirus crisis in Maharashtra, which has seen over 47,000 cases, holds lessons for all agencies on how to respond and collaborate, to deal with such challenges in the future, state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said on Monday. He said the responses at every stage of the crisis will have to be documented and analysed in the coming days to help prepare Standard operating Procedures (SOPs).
Deshmukh also said every effort was being made to minimise risk for police personnel, who were on the ground and involved in efforts to mitigate the crisis, and make the best possible treatment available for those who have tested positive.
The minister was speaking to The Indian Express about the rising number of cases in the Maharashtra Police force, which crossed 1,800 on Monday, with 1,113 active cases. The police forces in Mumbai, Malegaon, Thane and the State Reserve Police Force are the worst-affected lot. Eighteen police personnel across the state have lost their lives to the infection till now.
“We are taking all possible steps to address the issue of infections among police. Safety utilities are available in adequate numbers. PPE suits are being provided to police personnel who are deployed int hospitals, quarantine facilities or those at high risk. Since the beginning of the lockdown, we have made strategy changes to make sure the police force continues to do its duty with minimal risk,” said Deshmukh.
He added, “We also have to understand that as the pandemic has progressed, various agencies have made progress in their responses too. I believe that the Covid-19 crisis has lessons for all the involved agencies on how to respond, come together and collaborate, to deal with such crises. But for that, we will have document and analyse our responses at every state. At present, our priority remains fighting against Covid-19 with all possible resources at disposal.”
The Indian Express had earlier reported that as a precautionary measure among the two lakh- strong state police force, nearly 23,000 police personnel between 50 to 55 years of age were being given low-risk police station tasks while 12,000 more, who are above 55, have been asked to stay home. Police personnel who are the first contacts of infected patients are being kept in dedicated quarantine facilities for police at various places.
Following the state government’s request, the Union Home Ministry had deployed 20 companies of the Central Armed Police Force to augment police deployment in the state.
Speaking about measures to prevent the spread of infection in prisons, Deshmukh said, “We have expedited the process of releasing prisoners of various categories to reduce crowding, to make sure that distancing norms can be adhered to inside the prisons.”
The government had recently announced that nearly 17,000 inmates, half the population of prisons in the state, will be released. By Sunday night, 8,400 prisoners had been released either on conditional bail or emergency parole.
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