DHAKA: Police officers tasked with enforcing a coronavirus lockdown in Bangladesh have contracted the disease.
More than 200,000 officers are working around the clock to ensure that people obey lockdown conditions in Bangladesh, where there are 4,998 confirmed cases and a death toll of 140.
More than 660 police officers have been placed in quarantine and 262 have become infected.
“During this health emergency, police members are in close contact with people — limiting mass gatherings, taking people to hospitals, taking food and essentials to individuals' homes, searching and checking suspicious people — all these tasks create a higher risk of being infected,” Sohel Rana, assistant inspector general of police headquarters, told Arab News.
He added that provisions had been made at three hospitals to treat the infected officers. “We are keeping the groups away from each other and are sending a separate roster to each of the teams. We are keeping alternative plans so that our services to maintain law and order are not hampered.”
Health experts said police officers should be given proper training on infection control.
“Although police members used some forms of personal protective equipment (PPE), training on infection control and supervision on infection control practice may be lacking, making them more susceptible to the infection," Prof. Be-Nazir Ahmed, former director at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told Arab News.
He said that the government should maximize its efforts to trace, test and treat every case and continue social distancing.
The government has extended public holidays until May 5 to limit the number of infections.
Around 10,000 members of Bangladesh's armed forces are also working to contain the outbreak, but the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) department said Saturday that the situation was under control.
“A few of the members of our armed forces who got infected with coronavirus while working on the ground are doing well. The number of our infected members are very negligible, and the situation is very much under control," Lt. Colonel Abdullah Ibne Jayed, ISPR director, told Arab News.