IGP: Six cops down with Covid-19

Traffic police inspect vehicles at a roadblock on Jalan Selayang towards the city centre March 21, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Traffic police inspect vehicles at a roadblock on Jalan Selayang towards the city centre March 21, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 — Six police officers have contracted Covid-19 while carrying out their duties and enforcing the movement control order (MCO) throughout Malaysia, said Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador.

He said this was an expected occupational hazard for frontline personnel working to ensure the public is protected from the pandemic.

“Right now, we have 335 family members who are under constant monitoring. I cannot stress enough the danger that Covid-19 poses, for it is not fiction but a cold, hard fact,” Abdul Hamid said during an interview on Astro Awani.

Overall, he said the situation on the fourth day of the MCO is far better than the first day, which he said was understandable since many were still acclimatising to restricted movement then.

“I would say by the second or third day, the public adherence of the MCO is quite high, as much as 90 per cent.

“Having said that, the police have managed to detect some who seem to not understand or are otherwise too stubborn, and continue to violate the MCO,” said Abdul Hamid.

Most of these instances took place at roadblocks, where some tend to argue or debate with the police when stopped and asked why they were travelling.

“Usually long-winded answers or excuses are given. At times, the situation becomes heated and ends up with the police officers being verbally abused.

“But as with all things, police personnel are aware they must conduct themselves calmly, in a proper manner, and with self-restraint,” he said.

Abdul Hamid also cited several isolated incidents in general, where individuals were caught outside their homes being drunk, or went as far as to challenge police authority.

“Due to their rough actions towards police officers, these individuals end up being arrested. One instance which occurred in Labuan yesterday was when a suspected Covid-19 positive person refused to leave their home despite Health authorities contacting them to do so, and the police had to force them instead.

“But I hope that things will not come to that extent later on where sterner action is required. I do not want the police lock-ups to be filled with people who violated the MRO, as it would raise another threat with all those people packed together in the stations,” he said.

The inspector-general also dismissed the notion that the Armed Forces will take over from the police when they are deployed on the ground tomorrow to enforce the MCO.

“The Chief of Defence Force and myself have discussed plausible worst-case scenarios, and he has said the Armed Forces are ready to help out the police when needed.

“We will still take the lead in investigating and such, the police will not be rendered as second-liners but instead the Army will complement the number of police officers on ground,” Abdul Hamid said.

As it is impossible to be 100 per cent prepared for all eventualities, he said the assistance from the Armed Forces was highly advantageous as it has its own resources to draw upon.

“If ever an Emergency occurs, the military has its own hospitals, expertise and equipment, which they can use to open up field hospitals,” Abdul Hamid said.

Malaysia still has the highest number of Covid-19 cases in South-east Asia, with 1,183 infections as of today and six deaths.

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