The Delhi Police are putting themselves in harm’s way by escorting convicts to hospitals

NEW DELHI: At least 76 cops from Delhi Police’s third battalion — most of them deployed to escort inmates from the three city jails to hospitals — have tested positive for Covid-19 so far in the current wave of the pandemic.While 155 police personnel from the battalion had got the infection in the first wave, the second wave affected 175 cops. In the third wave, most of those who tested positive were deployed for Covid wards and hospital duties, putting them at an increased risk of exposure, an officer said.“At the peak of all three waves, the physical production of inmates was stopped in city courts. But our policemen regularly took inmates to hospitals for treatment and stayed on for its entire duration. In many cases, they were infected by the virus too,” the officer added. So far in this wave, 123 inmates in the three jails have tested positive till January 19. Data from the third battalion showed that from December 1-23, a total of 660 inmates from Tihar, 60 from Rohini jail and 243 from Mandoli were taken to various hospitals for treatment, and 70 of them were admitted. Between January 1and January 10, a total of 348 inmates — 188 from Tihar, 27 from Rohini and 133 from Mandoli — were taken to hospitals and 37 of them were admitted.Most of the time, prior information about the inmates’ Covid status is not available with the cops who escort them to hospitals.“I received a call one day that an inmate needed to be shifted immediately to the hospital for treatment as he was injured. When we took him there, the doctor conducted the Covid test and informed us he had tested positive, after which I was deployed,” said a cop.In another case, two juveniles who were taken to a hospital in Ashok Vihar turned out to be Covid-positive and the two cops who escorted them also got infected later.A constable told TOI that during long hours of hospital duty, cops sometimes touch their masks, PPE kits or remove them for taking meals and water. “This is the time they can contract the virus,” he said.A 31-year-old constable posted in the battalion tested positive in the second wave while he was deployed for duty at a hospital’s Covid ward. “We have no idea when we can contract the infection. We have to ensure that the inmate we are escorting does not escape,” he said.Deputy commissioner of police (third battalion) Hareesh HP said, “We always try to motivate our staff. They have been fully vaccinated and camps are being organised for the booster dose.”

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