Coronavirus infection has been increasingly spreading among the frontline workers in India. After healthcare workers, police officers have been severely impacted by the viral infection. Data collected by the Indian Police Foundation (IPF) shows that 1.21 lakh state police personnels and Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) have so far been tested positive for the viral infection. This is around 2 per cent of the overall caseload in India. Among the positive cases, 664 deaths have also been reported in the police force. The numbers have surfaced as IPF decided to collate data regarding COVID-19 cases and had written to many state police authorities.
The report citing the data pointed out that 1,21,903 cases to be exact have been reported among state police forces and CAPF so far. Among these, Maharashtra has the highest number of viral infection cases in police accounting to 21,988. The Central Reserve Police Force has recorded 10,267 Coronavirus cases and the Border Security Force witnessed 8,934 COVID-19 cases. As many as 7,963 police personnels in West Bengal have also tested positive followed by 7,612 personnels of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). It can be concluded that state police officers have a higher transmission rate of the novel Coronavirus when compared to other forces.
Citing retired IPS officer N Ramachandran, president and founder of IPF, the report highlighted that over the last three months, COVID-19 cases have surged significantly. The number is high when a group of specific professions among a country’s population is considered. Notably, one in 50 people affected by Coronavirus is a cop, the report said. Ramachandran further said that the nature of police duties has made the group a high-risk one. It is likely that the exposure may increase in a state like Bihar given the upcoming elections.
To be sure, police officers and other forces have been deployed across India since March 2020, when the Coronavirus pandemic broke out in India and a nationwide lockdown was imposed. The forces helped in restricting movement of people, providing security in Covid centres, contact tracing, helping stranded people move and ensuring a smooth supply chain of resources. These deployments were made additional to existing charter of duties.
Recently, all police stations have been asked to undergo an annual health check-up which has not been a case till now. The report said that the process will help keep an account of health conditions of police personnels and see if there are any comorbid conditions in the context of the Coronavirus pandemic.