Maharashtra Police reports surge in daily cases, takes stock of safety norms, SOPs

With Covid-19 cases surging across India, especially in Maharashtra, the state police force has started reporting significantly higher number of daily cases. This has prompted police units across the state to take a stock of their Covid safety preparedness and stress strict adherence to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in place. As on Friday, the two lakh-strong police force of Maharashtra has till now reported a total of 31,746 cases and 346 deaths while the number of active cases is 1,086.

These numbers include both officers and constabulary staff. A senior officer from Maharashtra police headquarters said, “Around mid-February, the number of daily Covid cases across the Maharashtra police used to be around 20, which has now risen to 60 to 80 per day in the past seven days. With cases in the overall population on the rise, cases among the police force also started rising from the first week of this month.

This has also resulted in a rise in the number of active cases. But this time, the number of hospitalisations and severe cases is smaller. The vaccination drive is also underway with meticulous monitoring and till now, at least 75 per cent of the force has received their first doses and administration of second doses has also begun.” During the peak of pandemic, the daily case count of Maharashtra police had reached the range of 400 new cases daily.

Maharashtra police has till now reported 346 deaths of officers and constabulary staff with 99 from the 44,000-strong Mumbai City Police. Other jurisdictions with higher number of deaths are Thane City (34), Nagpur City (18), Pune City (11), Nashik Rural (9), seven each in Nashik City, Jalgaon and Ahmednagar and and six each in Mira-Bhaindar, Pune Rural, Gadchiroli, Mumbai Railway Police and Sangli police jurisdictions. Another officer from state police headquarters said, “Since cases in the state started rising, the topic of possible rise in cases in the police has been discussed in meetings at various levels.

The Maharashtra police is currently following an SOP issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on February 13 on containing the spread in office spaces. We are continuously taking stock of our Covid preparedness on protecting our own force. Respective unit heads are also taking a review of the Covid preparedness in their respective force.”

In Pune City police, a nodal officer has been appointed at each police station from the beginning of the pandemic and is referred to as the ‘wellness officer’. A meeting of such wellness officers from all police stations in Pune city was held on Thursday, where senior officials reviewed the availability of various Covid safety supplies and also highlighted the need of strictly adhering to safety norms while performing routine policing duties. In Pune police, too, the number of daily cases has risen since the first week of March.

Since the beginning of the lockdown, the police force has been deployed in various high exposure duties like guarding the boundaries of districts or containment zones or deployment in 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 beginning of unlockdown, while Covid-related deployment eased, the volume of routine police work returned to normal.

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