KOCHI: With a cyclone close to the coast bringing heavy rain amid rising COVID-19 cases, the police is having a testing time in Ernakulam district. The twin battle has raised fears of more police personnel contracting COVID.
In the Ernakulam Rural limits - where more than 10 panchayats have reported a Test Positive Rate of nearly 50 per cent - the police have completed preparations to ensure that people remain safe during bad weather. Apart from the coastal region stretching from Chellanam to Munambam, the police have readied personnel for rescue operations on the banks of the Periyar, from Kuttampuzha to Aluva.
Campuses have been arranged to lodge COVID patients, the elderly and other persons who could be affected by the storm. "This is a challenging time for us with the Covid spread at its peak. But we have mobilised all resources to deal with the situation," said Ernakulam Rural District Police Chief K Karthick.
"We have identified green channels to ensure the safe passage of vehicles transporting oxygen, especially through NH 47 and NH 66. Generators have been arranged at all police stations so that the communication system isn’t affected," he said.
"We have a database of operators with earthmovers and tree cutters and they have been directed to be ready. As visibility is likely to be affected, we have provided police personnel with equipment including reflector jackets, raincoats and lights," Karthick added.
However, the officer said that if there is sea erosion, flood or landslide requiring rescue operations, the personnel will be facing the additional risk of contracting the virus. "The police personnel are taking all precaution against the viral infection. Currently, 36 persons are under treatment for COVID and around 130 are under quarantine. We are using personnel from the Crime Branch to enforce the lockdown restrictions. We also have personnel from the Reserve Battalions and the Armed Battalions," Karthick said.
Kochi City Police Commissioner H Nagaraju told The New Indian Express that the police, despite the risk, will be in the forefront of the battle. All available police personnel are being used, he said. "We have deployed policemen in the coastal region, especially at Chellanam, affected by sea erosion," he said.
"We have also transported the equipment required for rescue operation to the coastal region. We have also ensured that COVID-related duties, especially checking to impose lockdown, don’t get affected. There will be no compromise in policing," he added.
Several police stations are reeling under crises with a number of police personnel testing positive. In some stations, 50 per cent of the staff have contracted the disease.