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133 officers swabbed as SWAT member tests positive for virus

ONE HUNDRED thirty-three police officers were tested as the Davao City Police Office headquarters was placed on lockdown after one Special Weapon and Tactics operative was confirmed to be positive for COVID-19. 

Col. Kirby John Kraft, city police director, told TIMES that the operative is a member of the motorcycle quick response team, which has been tasked to patrol around Barangay 23-C as part of the hard lockdown enforced on the community.

Kraft said on July 9, the patient complained that he was not feeling well. He was immediately subjected to rapid diagnostic testing but the result was negative. On July 11,  he was admitted to the Brokenshire hospital due to high fever and low count of platelet but was referred to the SPMC after learning that he was rendering duty in a high-risk area. 

On the same day at 5:30 p.m., he underwent a swab test in the SPMC and the results came back at 6:30 a.m. on July 14 confirming that he was COVID-19 positive.

“We locked down the SWAT-Explosive Ordnance Division (EOD) and City Mobile Force Company (CMFC) compound, from where the COVID-19 positive patient is assigned, “he added. 

As a precautionary measure, the swab testing was conducted on all personnel inside the camp, including the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

“Davaoeños need not worry because these will not affect the deployment of DCPO personnel manning the streets, ” Kraft said.  “Personnel from different police stations will continue to serve and protect Davao city.”

Meanwhile, the DCPO director said the issuance of police clearance and travel authority is suspended until all the swab test results have been released. All applicants are advised to proceed to the San Pedro Police Station for the travel authority. 

Speaking on Wednesday over the city-operated radio,  Mayor Sara Duterte revealed that a government employee tested positive for the virus while rendering duty at the isolation facility. Meanwhile, 56 health care workers were also confirmed to be infected with COVID-19.

PRO XI to the rescue

Meanwhile, the Davao Police Regional Office sent a team to the DCPO to augment its force while some law enforcers might be sidelined while waiting for the results of the swab test.

Brig. Gen. Filmore Escobal, told TIMES that another team will take over the job of the SWAT team.

“Those not exposed can continue their duties,” Escobal said. “City director DCPO (Col Kirby John Kraft) is on top of the situation.”

Escobal said the Regional Mobile Force Battalion troops were sent to augment the DCPO upon request of Kraft.

But he quickly added that they already have a protocol in place in anticipation that some of the police personnel might be infected. 

“That is why the DCPO is on lockdown while contact tracing is in effect to determine the extent of exposure of the PNP personnel to the virus,” he said.

Meanwhile, the lockdown will also allow them to disinfect the camp, led by the PNP health service team, for the protection of everyone.

He said a total of 14 close contacts, seven PNP, and 7 civilians (family members) are already closely isolated and monitored. 

“We may opt to implement an office lockdown in affected offices,” he added. 

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