17 asymptomatic Punjab cops found covid positive in random sampling exercise involving 7165 RT-PCR tests
Testing commenced on June 1 on DGP’s orders to check all high-risk police personnel to assess situation after curfew relaxation
Chandigarh: A total of 17 Punjab Police personnel have tested positive in a random sampling of 7165 of a cross-section of cops posted in police stations and on other frontline jobs, as part of a special RT-PCR Covid testing drive ordered by DGP Dinkar Gupta amid apprehensions of a spike in cases in the wake of relaxation of the curfew in the state, and almost 3 months of multifarious frontline duties by around 48000 Punjab Police personnel working 24/7 during the Statewide curfew/lockdown.
This translates into around 0.9% positive cases of the total samples for the police force, as compared with the average of 2% positive cases for the entire state, said Gupta, pointing out that the state’s higher percentage among general population was understandable since testing of citizens is normally carried out either for symptomatic individuals or for their primary or secondary contacts, in contrast to the random exercise conducted among asymptomatic Punjab Police personnel.
The DGP disclosed that of the 17 positive cases, 14 belonged to district police, 2 (including a cook) were from State Armed Police/Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) and one from Punjab Home Guards (PHG). Sangrur has reported the maximum number of positive cases, said the DGP.
While 1868 of the 7165 samples collected till June 12 had tested negative, results for 5280 were pending, said Gupta, adding that the sampling process started on June 1, and efforts were being made to test a maximum number of police personnel posted in police stations and other high risk areas on a daily basis depending upon the spare sampling and the testing capacity available with the Health department. He further revealed that that all the 17 infected cops were in isolation, either in Civil Hospitals or in the COVID Care Centres established by the Punjab Health department.
The DGP had, through a Video Conference, directed all SSPs /CPs and IGs Ranges to conduct RT-PCR test for all police personnel with high risk exposure, with focus on personnel engaged in frontline roles in over 400 police stations of the 27 revenue/police districts of the state. The DGP Punjab directed the district police chiefs, as well as the Special DGP of the State Armed Police, to carry out the random sampling of a cross-section of the Punjab Police personnel, including drivers of Police Vehicles, Prison Vans etc. He told the officers he was concerned about the probability of increase in infection among police personnel deployed on public and frontline duties.
Since the Health Department had a shortage of trained sampling teams, the doctors and paramedics attached with the Police were put through a quick training programme by the State Health department in taking samples.
The exercise would help the department in making an assessment of the extent of problem in the police force, and would also enable the department to ensure the best possible medical treatment to the policemen and their families, said the DGP. It would also help Punjab Police make proper arrangements and build adequate capacity for testing and medical treatment of its personnel to combat any crisis situation in the future.
Meanwhile, a Covid positive ASI, with co-morbidities, was reported to be in critical condition in Amritsar City, said the DGP. He was, however, not part of the random sampling exercise undertaken by the department, he added, but all out efforts were being made to ensure the best possible treatment through the Expert Groups set-up by the Punjab government under Dr. KK Talwar, former Director, PGIMER, Chandigarh.