Hyderabad: At least 70 Andhra Pradesh Police personnel have died and 8.6 per cent of the total workforce has tested positive for the virus during the second wave of the pandemic, Director General of Police (DGP) Gautam Sawang said.
In an exclusive interview to ThePrint, Sawang claimed local body elections in the state and assembly elections in neighbouring Tamil Nadu contributed to a spike in infections.
Around 5,400 police personnel — nearly 8.6 percent of their total workforce of 63,000 — have got infected with the virus so far in the second wave, and around 670 police personnel were hospitalised, Sawang said.
During the first wave from March 2020 till January this year, about 18,000 policemen tested positive, he said.
“We had a casualty figure of about 110 during the first wave and during the second wave, in the last 2 months, we lost as many as 70 people. When we look at infection rate- this time it has been very quick to spread,” Sawang told ThePrint.
“I cannot say elections (in Andhra Pradesh) did not have an impact. With election and electoral activities, the exposure is higher; police have to mingle with a lot of people and we don’t know who could be the carriers. So, we do see that whenever there is a bandobast, the numbers are higher. For instance, we sent quite a few members to Tamil Nadu elections, once they returned from elections, we saw that several of them were infected,” he said.
The state police sent 3,500 police personnel on election duty to Tamil Nadu, where polls were held on 6 April and the results were declared on 2 May. Meanwhile, local body polls were held in Andhra Pradesh in four phases in February, and a crucial bypoll was held in state’s temple town Tirupati on 17 April.
Although it is still unclear how many policemen contracted the virus while on election duty, state police sources told ThePrint that such a possibility cannot be completely ruled out.
Sawang also said, currently, there are 2,300 active cases in the state police department.
WFH for pregnant staff, vaccination
Speaking about vaccinations, the DGP said almost 98 per cent of their staff have had their first dose of the Covid vaccine, and 80 per cent have got their second dose as well. He added the vaccination drive was put on hold in February during the local body polls.
To protect their workforce from infection, the Andhra Pradesh Police has taken several measures. This includes allowing pregnant female cops to work from home and health check-ups for policemen.
Andhra Pradesh continues to report a high positivity rate of around 23 per cent. On Friday, the state reported 20,937 new infections, taking the total number of cases to 15,42,079. The death toll stands at 9,904.
‘Appeal to Maoists to surrender’
The DGP also said the state police is ready to provide treatment to Maoists who have tested Covid positive, provided they surrender and join the mainstream.
“State feels they’re just misguided youth and misguided elements, we do not have anything against them the moment they come outside and join the mainstream. We appeal to them to come and join the mainstream because we hear that many of them are unwell and also exposed to Covid. So, the moment they come outside they would be given all kinds of treatment for their health condition and the rehabilitation programmes that the government usually offers will be extended to them.”
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