MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday ordered all commanders and unit heads to ensure that personnel are strictly complying with minimum health protocols.
PNP deputy chief for administration, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said the order is part of the efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus in police camps and other offices amid the surge of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases in the country.
He said there are interventions that were already approved to contain the spread of the virus in the organization, the latest of which was the order for police commanders, unit heads, and heads of offices to conduct surprise inspections.
This 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,” said Eleazar, who is commander of the PNP’s Administrative Support on Covid-19 Task Force (ASCOTF).
This is in the wake of the continuous increase in Covid-19 cases in the police force, which saw more than 100 new cases per day since March 15.
The PNP saw a single-day record number of new infections at 229 on Wednesday, bringing its active cases tally to 1,649 out of a total of 13,666 cases.
“The 229 reported cases yesterday (Wednesday) were the highest reported in a day, but the actual tests were from different dates which include late reports,” Eleazar said.
Of the 229 reported new cases, 65 of those infected are assigned at the National Headquarters at Camp Crame in Quezon City, 73 are assigned in various units outside the NHQ but inside Metro Manila, and the rest of 91 are assigned in various units across the country.
“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 an upsurge of cases especially those who are front-liners,” Eleazar said.
Meanwhile, 84 new recoveries increased the PNP’s tally to 11,981 while the death toll stands at 36.
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 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 in Camp Came 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 regional directors, through their respective ASCOTF commanders, the power to implement anti-Covid-19 measures depending on the situation in their respective areas of responsibility (AOR).
“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,” he said.
Meanwhile, PNP spokesperson Ildebrandi Usana said PNP chief, Gen. Debold Sinas is expected to return to work anytime soon.
Sinas completed his quarantine on Thursday, two weeks after he contracted Covid-19 on March 11.
“Gen. Sinas is doing fine. He actually has been presiding over some virtual meetings since the weekend. Officially his 14-day quarantine is done and he has just called for a breakfast meeting with a few health service officials to discuss the current efforts on the Covid-19 variants affecting our personnel. Maybe, he will have his return to work made public anytime soon,” Usana said. (PNA)