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Needed: Enough vaccines, regular testing for cops

August 18, 2021 Alfred P. Dalizon 328 views

Alfred DalizonNINETY-EIGHT and counting.

I’m referring to the number of police personnel who have died after contracting COVID-19 since March last year triggering calls for the need for all members of the Philippine National Police and their immediate families to be vaccinated and fast.

The 98th fatality was actually a policewoman from Central Mindanao who successfully delivered her baby thru caesarian section last August 10 before passing away three days later. PNP Patient 97 is a 52-year-old intelligence operative assigned in Metro Manila who was fully vaccinated last July 14. The cop was admitted to a hospital last August 14 for immediate medical attention but was pronounced dead on arrival by his attending physician. Both tested positive for the virus during an RT-PCR test.

The policewoman was admitted to a local hospital last August 5 due to shortness of breath. Last August 10, the pregnant policewoman underwent an emergency caesarean section operation and successfully delivered her baby. However, her condition worsened and she was transferred to a nearby hospital where she died due to acute respiratory failure last Friday.

On Tuesday, PNP chief, General Gilor Eleazar said they recorded four more virus deaths in the force prompting him to further raise the alarm bell in the force and reiterate his three guidance to his men: 1st, get vaccinated; 2nd, follow minimum health protocols; and 3rd, don’t self-medicate.

The news about the six new COVID-19 deaths in the PNP is really saddening since it brought to 18 the number of police personnel who have died after testing positive for the virus since last August 1.

However, what is alarming here is the revelations made by the PNP Health Service that most of the 18 latest fatalities are yet to be given anti-COVID, anti-flu or anti-pneumonia vaccines and were found to be suffering from different comorbidities. To date, there are already three policemen who have contracted the more dangerous Delta variant.

Thus, it is imperative for the national government in general and the National Task Force Against COVID-19 to ensure that the PNP will be given adequate vaccines for its men, their families included, lest we turn them into virus spreaders too.

We don’t need to have unvaccinated policemen manning our quarantine and border control points, mingling with people from all walks of life 24/7 without any idea who among them could be positive for COVID-19. This is also the reason why police need to be subjected to regular RT-PCR tests in line with their duties.

In Metro Manila, NCRPO director, Major Gen. Vic Danao said he wants the full vaccination of all members of the Metro Manila police force who remain in the front-line of enforcing minimum health safety protocols in the metropolis to help prevent the further spread of the deadly virus.

However, the reality will always remain that our policemen will always be exposed to the virus while performing their duties and would always be in danger of spreading the virus to their wives and kids and other family members once they are back home. Nobody is COVID-proof in this country, nor in any part of the world.

Metro Manila policemen, just like their counterparts outside NCR are not only guarding quarantine and border control points but are also securing government vaccination sites and quarantine facilities apart from providing convoy and route security to workers assigned to deliver the vaccines to their respective destinations.

Thus, there is this good news that all NCRPO personnel deployed in Metro Manila vaccination sites are already fully vaccinated, giving them some sort of confidence they already have the much-needed protection against the virus as they mingle with the public.

I join the PNP organization in praying for their COVID-19 deaths, some of them I personally knew. May they rest in peace.

The PNP-HS headed by my friend Brigadier Gen. Chito Magnaye, a classmate of Maj. Gen. Danao from PMA ‘Sambisig’ Class of 1991 also recorded 140 new cases bring the total of cases to 32,760 with 1,983 ‘active cases.’ Another 139 recoveries were also noted raising the total number of police personnel who have fully recovered from the disease and are now back to full duty status to 30,679.

But still, Gen. Eleazar had underscored their high vaccination rate in the force amid the increasing number of COVID-19 deaths in the organization since March 2020. According to the top cop, around 83 police personnel or 37 percent of their total strength have been fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus while more than 97,000 are awaiting their 2nd dose already.

“This is a great development for the PNP as we encounter deaths and new cases regularly due to COVID-19,” the PNP chief said.

As of Wednesday, the PNP-HS said that they have registered a total of 83,324 or 37.50 percent fully vaccinated police personnel while 97,363 or 43.82 percent are just awaiting their 2nd dose to complete the inoculation.

“Mahigit kalahati na po ng buong hanay ng pulisya ang ating nababakunahan sa ngayon mayroon na lang tayong 18.47 percent o 41,482 na pulis at non-uniformed personnel ang naghihintay na mabakunahan,” Gen. Eleazar said.

However, the number of COVID-19 deaths in the PNP is really increasing. Since last August 1, there were an additional 18 new deaths, three of them Police Commissioned Officers and the 15 all Police Non-Commissioned Officers.

The officers who died after contracting the virus include a Lieutenant Colonel, a Police Captain and a Police Lieutenant

Of the 98 fatalities, six are from the PNP national headquarters in Camp Crame; seven from different PNP National Operational Support Units; 22 from different National Operational Support Units; and 64 from the different Police Regional Offices.

The National Capital Region Police Office recorded the biggest number of fatalities with 20 followed by seven from the Police Regional Office 7 in Central Visayas; six from the PRO4-A in Calabarzon region; four each from PRO3 in Central Luzon, PRO6 in Western Visayas, PRO12 in Central Mindanao and PRO9 in Western Mindanao; and three each from PRO10 in Northern Mindanao; PRO11 in Southern Mindanao; and the Bangsamoro Administrative Region.