In the fight against Covid-19, our policemen are heroes too

In the fight against Covid-19, our policemen are heroes too

The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.

— Football coach Vincent ‘Vince’ Lombardi

AFTER four months of strict diet and exercise, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Police General Debold Menorias Sinas has lost 20 kilograms in body weight, making good his promise that the he will be a model for the PNP rank and file so that the whole police organization will be able to perform in its duties and mandate of serving and protecting the interest of the public.

Meanwhile, on his assumption as new Manila Police District director, Brigadier General Leo Francisco has given strict orders to his men: It is forbidden for any police officer to be involved in illegal drugs and kidnapping and no police officer should allow video racing, illegal gambling or drinking in public that causes disorder.

Francisco described the orders given him as simple and direct and there is no reason for this not to be complied with.

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PEOPLE should realize that not only nurses, doctors and other health workers constitute our front-liners in the fight against the coronavirus global pandemic because our policemen, too, are at the frontlines helping health authorities to maintain public order and proper health safety protocol to prevent the deadly disease from spreading.

In view of this, it is not surprising that among the ranks of the Philippine National Police (PNP) many of its uniformed personnel has contracted the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) as shown in the latest report that 31 new cases have been registered, raising the total number of cases within the national police force to 8,008 individuals.

Based on a PNP report as of last week, there are 381 active cases, 7,601 recoveries (49 new recoveries) and 26 deaths (no new deaths reported). Eight new cases were reported in the National Operational Support Unit (NOSU), Police Regional Office 3 (Central Luzon); four in National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO); two each in the National Administrative Support Unit at the Police Regional Office 2 (Cagayan Valley) in Northern Mindanao and the Police Regional Office in Cordillera; and one in Police Regional Office 11 (Davao).

Currently, the PNP has three operational molecular laboratories to trace and treat personnel infected with the disease, especially high-risk personnel working in the field. Two of the laboratories are in Camp Crame in Quezon City while the other one is in the Cebu City Police Provincial Office (CCPPO).

It’s no simple matter how our policemen are aiding government in preventing more viral infections or transmission and in doing so, they, too, put their lives on the line—so much like when they perform their duties to enforce the law and protect the citizenry from criminality.

Health workers are not the only heroes who are fighting Covid-19. Our cops are heroes as well in the performance of their responsibilities to maintain peace and order and more importantly to remind the public the importance of following the minimum health safety measures being imposed by our health authorities.

Policemen have an active role in the fight against Covid-19 because many of our countrymen still do not realize the necessity of wearing face masks and face shields and maintaining the social distancing rule and proper hygiene.  These measures somehow provide a bit of security that Covid-19 will not continue to be transmitted to healthy individuals just because some of them flout the rules.

Yet how is this received by our fellow countrymen who are continually monitored and reminded to follow the health safety standards set by our health experts?

People should realize that our policemen are also human and can contract Covid-19 if they are not careful enough.

In South Korea recently, asymptomatic patients are driving a surge in new cases, frustrating efforts to control transmission in Seoul which managed to keep infections under control in previous outbreaks.

South Korea reported 569 new cases in the 24 hours ending on Thursday midnight last week, a level unseen in nearly nine months, as it grapples with the third wave of the pandemic that appears to be worsening despite tough new social distancing measures.

With young people at the center of the surge, health authorities in South Korea estimate asymptomatic patients now account for 40 percent of total infections, up sharply from 20 to 30 percent in the month of June.

That compares with research evidence suggesting about one in five infected people in general will experience no symptoms.

The rate is much lower in China where the state disease control center said in February that around one percent of more than 70,000 cases it analyzed were asymptomatic. In Tokyo, about 19 percent of patients are asymptomatic.

It’s not clear why some patients who test positive for the virus do not display any symptoms, but health officials believe they pose less transmission risks. However, the people they infect may display symptoms.

Also, the officials are concerned about a rise in untraceable clusters since these asymptomatic infections are more difficult to identify.

Cold weather is further accelerating the spread as more meetings and activities are held indoors in places with poor ventilation, while the risk of unwitting infections by symptomless patients has increased.

That poses a major challenge in South Korea, which succeeded in keeping infections low in previous outbreaks through aggressive contact tracing.

It has introduced tougher social distancing measures this week to contain transmission and encouraged people to get tested.

“We should have maintained tough social distancing measures longer,” said Kim Woo-joo, a professor of Infectious Diseases at Korea University Guro Hospital.

“In the wake of eased social distancing measures in early October, a lot of people, especially young people, let their guard down, and many of those who had very mild symptoms or no symptoms have gone unnoticed,” Kim added.

As young people drive the surge in new cases, the number of young patients in serious conditions and in need of ventilators has also shot up to 19 this week in South Korea to nearly one fourth of total patients who need ventilator support.

Japan is also battling a rise in asymptomatic cases, as it seeks to rein in its highest surge in infections yet this week, with daily tallies in Tokyo hitting a record 570 as of Thursday.

Public health experts advising the government have warned about a rise in untraceable clusters, spread by asymptomatic patients.

That has skewed the current outbreak, compared with the second wave that hit the country in the summer, more towards older people getting the virus from relatives at home or from infected people at medical facilities, they said.

The rate of asymptomatic cases found in Tokyo was 19 percent in the week to November 17 compared with about 14 percent in July, according to a health advisory panel presentation.

Some experts recommend more rigorous testing to protect wider community.

In view of these information and developments, what would our policemen do and likewise our health authorities if something like what South Korea is experiencing now happens to us here in the Philippines? (AI/MTVN)

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