Unprepared cops battle COVID-19

Staff Reporters DIMAPUR, APR 4 (NPN) | Publish Date: 4/4/2020 1:24:43 PM IST
As the ‘frontline soldiers’ against COVID-19 and also tasked with enforcing the 21-day national lockdown, Nagaland frontline workers, especially police personnel are unprotected and vulnerable. With COVID-19 already making its presence in four states-- Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Mizoram- the threat on Nagaland has become alarming.
In order to find out the ground reality from the frontline soldiers against COVID-19, Nagaland Post spoke to some police personnel at various inter-state borders and other parts of the district. It was clear, that the police personnel were not equipped with required protection except ordinary masks.
Those manning the check gates disclosed that they have to deal with hundreds of drivers and handymen of many vehicles carrying essential commodities to Nagaland.
Some of them expressed apprehension about their safety while carrying out their duty. They also admitted that none of them have undergone test for COVID-19 despite having been on the frontline for many days. 
“We expose ourselves while on duty but we are not even screened or tested for the virus. What if we go back home and infect our family members?” asked a policeman.
Like many frontline workers, who have been given a briefing then pressed into battle, the police personnel disclosed they not only face shortage of information about COVID-19 but also food, water, transportation and other services.
Almost all of them told this newspaper that they largely depend on social media to learn more about COVID-19.
Interestingly, some traffic personnel said they were totally ignorant about COVID-19 as they were trained only to direct traffic. 
One of them said it would be very helpful if a medical team was attached with the police on duty.
Over and above fighting an unseen enemy and not being prepared, the police personnel also told this newspaper that they now have to work for longer hours from the normal six hours to eight hours presently. 
The police personnel also disclosed that they have been on duty continuously for four days since total lockdown was declared and have not been able to purchase food or water whenever the need arose. Some informed that on few occasions volunteers offered water and food. However, most days they worked under the scorching heat without refreshment or water.
Some personnel of Mahila battalion revealed that they work for eight hours without food and water except for the meal served at their camp in the early morning.
Some of the traffic personnel said that they were fed each day with food and water by their “DCP Madam”. The personnel said their “DCP Madam” had been providing them masks and hand sanitizers as well.
Most of the frontline workers were provided only few single-use masks and a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer at the beginning of the lockdown. They did not know that the mask provided was only for single-use.
Some said they had to purchase masks, sanitizers and even soaps for use during duty hours with their own money. Ten police personnel manning an inter-state border said they were provided only a single bottle of hand sanitizer. 
They also complained that they are not provided transportation. With public transportation off the road, they had to hitch ride from their fellow colleagues or those exempted from the lockdown.
Despite being deprived of necessary equipments, food and movement, yet these valiant soldiers were committed to extend their service during the pandemic.
They also appealed the public to understand the severity of the situation and remain indoors.
As the frontline workers, including medical team, continue to be exposed to the deadly virus, it remains to be seen whether the state government will initiate extensive testing along with the ongoing social distancing achieved through the lockdown.


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