A vehicle leaves the Siparia CID headquarters yesterday. The compound was temporarily closed down for sanitisation on Wednesday after an officer’s spouse tested positive for COVID-19. Over a dozen other officers have now been placed on 14 days quarantine.

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Over a dozen police officers from the Siparia CID headquarters have been sent on quarantine after the spouse of a police officer tested positive for COVID-19, effectively affecting the unit’s ability to function with the same level of efficiency it did previously.

The officer last reported for duty on Tuesday night. When the test result was confirmed as positive, the officer informed senior personnel who immediately contacted the Ministry of Health’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, who ordered that the COVID-19 protocols be implemented immediately.

Contact tracing was done and over 15 officers who were in close proximity to their colleague were given notices to embark on 14 days of quarantine.

A source said on Wednesday afternoon the entire station was closed down and sanitised. However, the officers who were not on the same shift as the primary COVID contact did not have to go into quarantine.

But sources said some of the officers at the station were still concerned about the length of time it took for initial test results to come in and be communicated to them. None of the quarantined officers has been swabbed either, as they are not showing any symptoms of the virus.

Officers did not want to say how the loss of their colleagues had affected their ability to function efficiently.

Contacted for comment on the issue yesterday, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith confirmed that some of the officers from the station were in quarantine.

“A number of persons were quarantined due to yesterday’s (Wednesday) situation at Siparia headquarters,” Griffith said.

Asked how many stations had been closed since COVID-19 hit Trinidad and Tobago’s shores in March, Griffith, “Since COVID started, in the Southern Division three stations and the divisional headquarters were temporarily closed to effect aerosol sanitising. In the South-western Division, one station was closed and now the divisional headquarters.”He added that one station in the Central Division was temporarily closed for sanitisation and emphasised that all the closures were temporary. Griffith added that the mentioned stations continued operations at all times with officers operating from outside whilst the sanitising was in effect.

Last May, the Siparia Police Station was also closed after word spread that a police officer came to work exhibiting flu-like symptoms. He was sent to the nearby Siparia Health facility for testing. Princes Town, Moruga, Gran Couva, Besson Street, Manzanilla, St Clair and Chaguanas were among the stations closed temporarily because of COVID-19.

Griffith has asked all officers to be vigilant, saying that because they constantly deal with members of the public they were in the frontline to contract the virus. Griffith has also taken tests for COVID-19 recently which came back negative.

Discussions have also been held with Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Social and Welfare Association president Gideon Dickson about COVID-19 concerns. The quarantined officers have been warned that they could face charges if they break the quarantine order.

Just recently, some 87 recruits in training at the Police Academy in St James also tested positive for the virus.

In its COVID-19 update yesterday, the ministry reported 139 positive cases taken from samples between September 4 to September 18.

A total of 3,651 people have tested positive for the virus in T&T, of which 2005 are active cases.