A daily dread of Covid for families of Mumbai Police force

The Mumbai Police personnel have been out on the streets, once again, trying to enforce the lockdown induced by the second wave of Covid-19 that has shown unpreceded number of cases across Maharashtra and the country. While the policemen are hardly the one to complain, their families have been juggling through the dread of contracting the disease to have a normal family life.

Covid-19 has claimed the lives of 109 police personnel so far. April has seen 11 deaths, which is the highest since September last year, and has 500 active cases among the city police force. Being the frontline workers, policemen were vaccinated in the second phase of vaccination drive through which 33,691 took the first jab while 21,915 took the second jab, which constitutes 81 percent and 53 percent of the total Mumbai Police force. Till now 8,594 policemen had tested positive in the Mumbai Police force.

“We don’t have the privilege where I can think of my husband sitting at home and working. Who would not love to see that happen in such times. But he being in the force, he has to follow his duty. We are scared of him being infected, or him infecting the entire family,” said a police officer’s, wife requesting anonymity.

“Since the first lockdown, we have laid down the norms of him not touching anything in the house once he returns from work. He has to enter the bathroom for a shower, before he does anything. He has been sleeping in a separate bedroom since the pandemic began,” she further said.

As the coronavirus cases within the police force continue to rise, many policemen's families have started with their old home made remedies such as Kadha – a concoction of spices to raise the immunity – while some police wives are stressing the need of vaccination for the frontline workers families as well.

The stories of many policemen are heart rendering. A Mumbai policeman has not touched his infant daughter since the day she was born. "My husband has not embraced our daughter and ensures that he maintains a safe distance with both our daughters, aged eight years and one-and-a-half months," said Dehu, 31, wife of a police constable attached to a police station in the East region, who does everything in her might to keep the family safe.

Her husband, who had tested positive in January this year, was critical and admitted in the hospital for treatment, when his wife was heavily pregnant. After his wife delivered a baby girl, in March this year, he made sure that he did not touch the infant, but embraced her only once, when she was hardly a day old.

Families of policemen have been constantly maintaining social distancing at home as well. "My husband calls us before reaching home, which is when we make preparations for his hot bath, followed by steam, isolation for an hour. When he returns from duty, all his belongings are stored in a plastic bag, which is sanitised and handled only after 12 hours," said Prajakta, wife of another policeman attached to the traffic police department.

She appealed to the state government to vaccinate the families of the frontline workers as well. "Our sons are very disheartened to see that their father returns from duty and does not embrace them at all and keeps them at a safe distance. We are doing everything from our end and can only hope for a better tomorrow," said Prajakta.

Mumbai Police Commissioner has asked the personnel to use double masks and face shields to ensure they do not contract the virus, along with a dedicated Covid helpline and Covid care facility for policemen.

Chaitanya S, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations) said, "A dedicated COVID care facility for police personnel at Kole Kalyan in Kalina has been established and we are in a process of acquiring vacant places such as schools, colleges at regional level where COVID care centers for infected police personnel will come up. Helplines at regional level have already started to help police personnel and for their family to help in hospitalisation, bed availability and regarding availability of medicines as well."

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