Amidst the gloomy mood of the coronavirus pandemic, a beacon of light can be found in the recovery rate of Bangladesh Police members, who got infected with the virus while working as frontliners during the countrywide shutdown.
As of yesterday, around 8,520 members of the force have tested Covid-19 positive. Of them, 27 have died so far.
On the other hand, around 4,893 police members have already recovered, and a majority of them have rejoined work, according to officials of Police Headquarters (PHQ) operation unit.
The recovery rate stands at 55.92 percent, surely a cause for much-needed optimism for those working in the force.
Officials attribute the decent recovery rate to timely steps of the police administration, which includes ensuring standard treatment for infected members and preparing suitable medical facilities to keep up with the surge of infections since the early days.
Md Sohel Rana, assistant inspector general of PHQ, told The Daily Star yesterday that the rapidly rising recovery rate comes down to the successful implementation of advanced treatment facilities for infected members.
AIG Rana said they have also launched awareness programmes among force members along with providing safety equipment to on-duty personnel.
According to officials, the Central Police Hospital (CPH) has a capacity of around 250 beds, 15 Incentive Care Unit (ICU) beds, and 14 high dependency units.
Additionally, there are 120 doctors, 130 nurses, and 80 ward staff at the hospital, said Saif Shantu, additional superintendent (admin) of the hospital.
Even a month back, the hospital had no room for new admissions and the authorities had to contract private hospital "Impulse Hospital" for treating officials who were left out of CPH.
However, as the recovery rate improved, pressure at the hospital has reduced, with only 126 patients currently admitted.
The police authorities also set up a 350-bed temporary hospital at Traffic Police Barrack-One, a 300-bed hospital at Traffic Police Barrack-Two, and another 110-bed hospital at the Detective Training School.
Currently, the Traffic Police Barrack-One hospital has 160 patients, Traffic Police Barrack-Two hospital has 219 patients, and DTS has 35 patients, according to hospital officials.
SP Saif Shantu of CPH said they are treating Covid-19 patients following the guidelines issued by World Health Organization and the health ministry, but also with some customisation, focusing on diet and psychological strength.
"We have provided an electric tea pot and steam machine to every patient at these hospitals so that they can frequently use hot water to drink tea," he said.
Besides, the hospital is providing patients with a protein, zinc, vitamin C, and mineral rich diet, which includes seasonal fruit, lemon, and ginger, he said. The hospital premises and washrooms are also being cleaned regularly to ensure hygiene.
"We are not leaving any patient alone for long. Every hour, a specialised team are visiting the patients," he said.
This is part of a strategy to mentally strengthen the patients, Shantu explained. The hospital has arranged for video calling facilities even at ICU and HDU units, so that patients get to talk to family members.
"Our doctors and medical staff are making sure that patients don't feel neglected," he said.
But this has not come without a price. "Around 60 medical staff got infected implementing this strategy, but we did not back out of it. Instead, we recruited more nurses and ward boys through outsourcing," Shantu told this correspondent.
Requesting anonymity, an official of CPH said the medical team was initially at a loss about how to treat the infection, but they have figured out some methods over time. This shows in the recovery rate, which stood at 38 percent just a month back but is now almost 56 percent, he said.
INFECTIONS RISING AGAIN
CPH received its first Covid-19 patient on March 24, an official told this correspondent. From that day to May 22, there was a continuous stream of a big number of new patients each day, except for a day or two. But admissions started stabilising around the last week of May and continued up to the second week of this month, said the official.
"However, for the last couple of days, we are witnessing another rise in the infection rate, in line with the rising rate of infection in the country," he said.
"We suspect this is because of increased public movement on the streets after the government lifted the shutdown for a while. This meant police personnel could not carry out their duties without coming into contact with people," the official added.
According to PHQ database, the total number of infections in the police force was 6,612 on June 8, which rose to 7,317 in June 14, which means 705 officials got infected over six days.
But for the next five days, 1,203 officials got infected, at an average of 240 new cases daily, the database reported.