KOCHI/T’PURAM/KOZHIKODE: Raising alarm among an over-stretched police force in Kerala, two of its officers have tested positive for Covid-19. The officers, one each from Malappuram and Kannur, contracted the virus while on duty and were among the 10 new cases reported in the state on Wednesday. The first confirmed cases among its personnel, who have been working overtime at the ground level to enforce the lockdown, have forced the state police department to send around 50 officers, including a DYSP, into quarantine.
The source of their infection is said to be a truck driver from Wayanad who had visited Chennai’s Koyambedu vegetable market and tested positive on May 2. With this, 10 of his direct contacts have contracted the virus so far. Alarmed at the development, the police department has called a high-level meeting on Thursday.
Among the 10 new positive cases, three are from Malappuram, two each from Wayanadand Palakkad and one each from Kottayam, Kannur and Kozhikode. According to the health department, four of them are expats who recently returned and two have come from Chennai. The other four got infected locally. The state also reported one recovery, and there were no new hotspots.
The police department has always emphasised that its officers are at a higher risk than health workers as they deal with unknown people on the streets. As per the guidelines issued by DGP Loknath Behera, no police officer should be deployed on duty without wearing gloves and masks.
“The police officers are at a high risk as they have to deal with people coming from various places. We’re taking utmost care to ensure their safety. Considering the situation, a high-level meeting will be convened on Thursday and we’ll frame a standard operating procedure,” ADGP Manoj Abraham told TNIE.
Health Dept for rework of measures
“Infection among those who have high social exposure is a serious affair. Through sentinel surveillance, samples being taken from priority groups like healthcare workers, persons with high social exposure and others. But confirmation of Covid among police personnel shows a reworking of the strategy is needed,” said a health department official.
The official pointed out that with police personnel being roped in for crowd control at border checkposts, enforcement activities and overall monitoring of the returnees, they always run the risk of infection, much like healthcare workers.
State Police Complaints Authority former chairman Justice Narayana Kurup said, “The authorities should ensure complete protection for police officers striving to enforce lockdown restrictions. The protocol issued by the WHO and ICMR in this regard should be strictly followed.”
We’re taking utmost care to ensure the safety of the officers on the field. Considering the situation, a high-level meeting will be convened on Thursday and we’ll frame a standard operating procedure
Manoj Abraham, ADGP
Cabinet gives nod, liquor to cost more
T’Puram: Liquor will cost more in the state after the Cabinet gave its nod for imposing Covid cess as part of generating additional revenue. Around 10% duty of the basic price of beer and wine and 35% of Indian-made foreign liquor will be increased respectively. Customers will have to shell out `50-`160 in extra for various brands. Through the hike, the state government plans to raise an additional revenue of `2,000 crore, said Finance Minister Thomas Isaac.
Govt green light for special bus fare
T’Puram: The state government has decided to increase the fare of private buses to enable owners to cover the loss they would incur by operating services while maintaining social distancing norms in the vehicle. The details will be announced soon.
Pending exams to begin on May 26
T’Puram: The revised dates for conducting the pending SSLC, HSE and VHSE exams were published by the state government on Wednesday. SSLC and VHSE examinations will begin on May 26 while Plus-One and Plus-Two examss will begin on May 27. Meanwhile, valuation camps for HSE began on Wednesday amid protests by a section of teachers. Only 23% of the designated 33 % teachers turned up at the 88 centres.