A CONTINUING daily spike in COVID-19 cases in the Philippine National Police (PNP) since last March 15 has prompted the PNP leadership headed by General Debold M. Sinas to order their commanders and heads of various units to conduct surprise inspections of their offices to ensure that their men are strictly observing the minimum health safety protocol set by the government.
According to Administrative Support on COVID-19 Task Force commander and concurrent PNP Deputy Chief for Administration, Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar, the order is part of their effort to contain the spread of the killer virus in police camps, stations and other offices across the country.
Sinas approved the conduct of the surprise health protocol inspections aimed at seeing to it that all members of the 210,000-strong organization are following health measures in their workplaces such as the wearing of face masks and face shields and social distancing as well.
Eleazar said the measure is needed since even the PNP is experiencing a continuous increase in COVID-19 cases, noting that they have been recording more than 100 cases every day since last March 15.
On March 24 for instance, the PNP recorded the highest new cases in a day with 229, he said.
Based on the PNP data, more than 14,100 PNP personnel have been infected by the coronavirus since last year, with 36 reported deaths and nearly 2,000 active cases. All the rest were able to fully recover.
“The upsurge in COVID-19 cases in the PNP is consistent with both our analysis and that of health experts. As part of the general population, the PNP is also experiencing upsurge of cases especially that they are frontliners,” he said.
Eleazar, however, said there are interventions that were already approved to contain the spread of the virus in the organization, the latest was to order police commanders, unit heads and heads of offices to conduct surprise inspection.
The official said the purpose is to ensure that all personnel are complying with the memorandum to all units that all PNP personnel must wear both a face mask and a face shield inside the police camps, police stations, and even inside the offices.
“The wearing of both the face mask and the face shield has been repeatedly proven to be effective in preventing infection. That is why this must be strictly observed. Those who would be caught defying this order would be dealt with accordingly,” Eleazar said.
Currently, the PNP is implementing a policy on contact-tracing wherein it classifies those who make close contact with COVID-19 personnel into High-Risk Close Contact and Low-Risk Close Contact.
High-risk contacts are those who were not wearing a face mask and face shield and did not observe physical distancing during the time when they made close contact with a COVID-19. High-risk contacts are immediately subjected to mandatory quarantine.
Low-risk contacts, on the other hand, are those who made close contact with a COVID-19 positive while wearing both a face mask and a face shield and observed physical distancing during the close contact. They are not subjected to mandatory quarantine and are allowed to report to work but are instructed to strictly observe minimum health safety protocol.
“As members of an organization which is implementing the minimum health safety protocol in the communities, we should serve as a role model by following them ourselves,” Eleazar said.
Aside from surprise inspections, other measures now being implemented at the NHQ are the modified work arrangement for PNP civilian employees, reducing the number of personnel attending activities in the PNP such as flag-raising, and suspension of face-to-face classes for mandatory schooling/training of PNP personnel.
Outside Metro Manila, Eleazar said they are giving the Regional Directors, through their respective ASCOTF commanders, to implement anti-COVID measures depending on the situation in their respective areas of responsibility.
“Different regions can have different COVID situations. We leave it up to the regional ASCOTF commanders to assess their respective AORs and implement appropriate interventions based on our established protocols,” the official said.Publication Source : People's Journal