DHAKA: Health authorities in Bangladesh were rushing to make arrangements for the treatment of Covid-19 positive police officials on Saturday following reports of five deaths in the past four days and 741 confirmed cases of infections.
The Central Police Hospital (CPH) in the capital, Dhaka, said that it was operating beyond capacity, with “560 Covid-19 infected officers under treatment at the facility which has only 250 beds.”
“To deal with the burden of extra patients we had to expand the hospital services to two other buildings,” said Dr. Hasan Ul Haider, the director of CPH and deputy inspector general of police, on Saturday.
CPH officials said they were struggling to deal with the rise in infections with a limited number of health professionals.
“We have around 65 doctors and 70 nurses to deliver the services on the front line. But only one-third of the health professionals can provide services at a time due while maintaining the health protocols. The CPH is also considering outsourcing health professionals to meet the demands,” Haider said.
He added that out of 15 ICU beds, 10 were occupied on Saturday, despite the hospital making arrangements for additional ventilators.
With the nationwide lockdown imposed in March, police officials were deployed to ensure residents adhered to the strict quarantine and anti-virus measures across the country.
Nearly half of the infections were traced to the Dhaka Metropolitan Police area, prompting authorities to strengthen precautionary measures there.
“At the beginning of the outbreak some police members were not very serious about wearing masks and other protective gear which might have exposed them to the contagious virus while delivering duties in the highly populated urban areas including city slums,” said Mahmuda Afroz Lucky, assistant deputy commissioner of Dhaka’s Mirpur Zone.
Although all police members were provided with personal protective equipment, many of them might have worn it improperly, she said, adding that all personnel had been trained in social distancing measures.
“We had made separate teams for three shifts who are on duty for seven days at a stretch. Moreover, to avoid congested living conditions in the police barracks, we have organized accommodation at different hotels and educational institutions for them,” Lucky said.
“On entering the barracks, police members should change their clothes ... and disinfect the barracks after each shift or at intervals of every six hours,” said Prof. Mozaherul Huq, former regional advisor of WHO’s Southeast Asia region.
However, infected police officials expressed optimism that they would overcome the crisis through their collective effort.
“I was admitted here with high fever and coughing one week ago and am feeling better in the last two days. Every day, my boss used to call me in the morning to know how I was doing. I am not feeling alone at all,” said a police constable requesting anonymity, as he is not authorized to speak to the media.
K. M. Kamrul Ahsan, the spokesperson for the police headquarters, added that all unit heads of police had been asked to ensure the “best treatment” for the infected personnel.
“In addition to 22 police hospitals across the country, we have made arrangements at five more private hospitals to treat the Covid-19 patients,” Ahsan said.
As of Saturday, there were 8,790 Covid-19 patients across the country, with 175 deaths reported.