April 12, 2021 8:07:14 pm
While the Maharashtra government is considering a statewide lockdown which will require increased police deployment, the number of active cases among the 2 lakh-strong state police force has nearly tripled over the last three weeks.
As Covid-19 cases started surging across India, especially Maharashtra, from the first week of March, the state police force also started reporting significantly higher numbers of daily cases.
As on Sunday, the 2 lakh-strong force of Maharashtra has reported a total of 36,089 cases and 368 deaths while the number of active cases is 2,950. These numbers include both officers and constabulary staff. Three weeks ago, on March 20, these numbers were at 31,746 cases and 346 deaths while the number of active cases was at 1,046.
The second wave of the infection has prompted police units across the state to take stock of their Covid-safety preparedness and make sure that there is strict adherence to various standard operating procedures that were put in place from time to time.
A look at case numbers in the Maharashtra police force shows that around mid-February, the number of daily Covid-19 cases across the state used to be around 20, which went up to 60 to 80 per day around mid March. This number has climbed up to an average of 200 to 250 cases being reported on a daily basis.
“The Maharashtra government is discussing imposition of a statewide lockdown over a period seven to 14 days, considering the staggering number of cases that are being reported. If that happens, a large chunk of the police force will have be deployed on the ground to ensure that the lockdown is followed. Already, several major cities in the state have imposed stricter restrictions requiring respective police units to deploy additional force on the ground. But active cases in the state police are rapidly rising. As on Sunday, there are around 10,000 police personnel who are in quarantine, which is around 5 per cent of the total strength.” said a senior officer from Maharashtra Police headquarters.
The officer added, “We are also observing many of the police officers and personnel who have received one and even two doses of vaccine are testing positive. But the severity of the symptoms is certainly low as compared to the earlier wave and it is significantly low among those who have received the vaccine.”
Maharashtra Police has till now reported 368 deaths of officers and constabulary staff, with 100 of them coming from the 44,000-strong Mumbai City Police. Other jurisdictions with higher number of deaths are Thane city (34), Nagpur city (18), Pune city (12), 10 each in Nashik Rural and Nashik City, eight in Jalgaon, seven Ahmednagar and and six deaths each in Mira Bhayandar, Pune Rural, Gadchiroli, Wardha, Gadchiroli, Nanded, Mumbai Railway Police and Sangli.
Another officer added, “At the level of individual unit commanders and centrally at the state police headquarters, the situation is being closely monitored and is being reviewed on a daily basis. Availability of hospital beds and supply of medicines is also being monitored.”
Since the beginning of the lockdown, the police force has been deployed in various high-exposure duties like guarding the boundaries of districts, containment zones or at high-risk isolation wards, quarantine facilities or hospitals. Police were also given additional responsibility of managing the large number of migrant workers who were moving to their states, and also when they were returning, in addition to all the routine police work. Since the various unlock phases began while Covid-related deployment eased, the volume of routine police work came back to normal.
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