As Mumbai Police, one of the frontline COVID-19 warriors, continue to get affected by the virus, the city’s Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Vinoy Choubey on Monday opened up about the challenges ahead and the battle so far.
With over 1,526 cases in the department, the battle is still far from over for Mumbai Police. One police personnel lost his battle to virus on Monday, taking the total count of deceased to 17.
As the financial capital continues to remain the worst affected city in the country, the Mumbai Police is at the forefront of bearing the brunt.
“Our role has been unconventional during this entire period of lockdown. We have done things that were not there in our charter of duties. We have been at the forefront in this entire period. We have not just done traditional, conventional roles like nakabandi, but have also guarded containment buildings and hospitals, have made sure that supply of essential goods is streamlined. We even took lead during the process of sending migrants back home. Our DCPs were nodal officers. We completed the entire process from taking applications to issuing passes, and helping transport the migrants to managing them,” said Choubey.
The department has been playing a key role ever since the lockdown was announced. Initially, when Worli-Koliwada had emerged as the first largest cluster of COVID-19 cases, the Mumbai Police had sealed the entire locality, allowing no thoroughfare.
Despite murmurs of local community transmission, the police personnel guarded the area, stopping anyone from venturing in or out of the containment zone.
When asked about the rising number of cases in the police force, Choubey said, “We are in direct contact with people. So the risk comes with it. We stop people, talk to them, seek their documents. We are on the streets. The additional stress is that the police lines are also places that have common public facilities, including toilets. So our personnel are always worried if they will carry the infection back home.”
The senior officer said several measures were taken since the beginning to address the problems faced by the personnel.
First, all the staffers above 55 years of age were asked to work from home. “We sanitised the police lines and vehicles. We realised that our force generally gets its tea and coffee from unhygienic places. So we bought many good quality thermal flasks and vending machines. We have started giving nutritional supplements to all our staff – primarily Vitamin C, Vitamin D and multivitamins. Given the risk we face, we have also been giving them prophylactic medicines as a preventive measure,” Choubey said.
The Mumbai Police recently inaugurated the third COVID care facility meant especially for the forces. The department decided to stop all recreational activities at Mumbai Police Gymkhana and turned it into a Covid Care Centre instead.
“This is our third facility. It will have the capacity to accommodate 100 patients. With this, we will now have the capacity to treat 1,100 virus-hit patients in our force. Two facilities are already functional in Marol and Vakola. They are being expanded. Both Marol and Vakola facilities together have a capacity of 1,000 beds. The Marine Drive facility will have 100 beds,” he said.