With several policemen of different ranks contracting COVID-19, the law enforcement department has requested that they be facilitated to avail ‘best treatment’ from corporate hospitals in case they test positive for the infection.

This demand has intensified after several Ministers, MLAs and other public representatives got admitted to corporate hospitals, instead of Gandhi Hospital, declared as the Centre of Excellence for COVID-19 treatment in Telangana.

The officers, especially in the ranks of constables, sub-inspectors and inspectors, that The Hindu spoke to, demanded that the government should include coronavirus in Arogya Bhadratha Scheme (ABS), a health insurance scheme under which policemen and their family members can avail cashless treatment for various ailments at any hospital in the State.

Currently, the scheme excludes COVID-19 at a time when a large number of policemen are facing the risk of contracting the virus due to the nature of their job. So far, around 1,000 police officers, including a few IPS officers, have been diagnosed with the infection.

Considering the limitations and criticism about treatment provided at the Gandhi Hospital and other government hospitals in Hyderabad, there is a strong feeling among police personnel that the State government should include COVID-19 in ABS, which is part of Employees Health Scheme. “Being frontline warriors, we are at risk of contracting the virus. Many of our colleagues have already tested positive and a few succumbed. The situation at Gandhi Hospital is very scary,” said an inspector with Hyderabad city police.

Last month, Additional Director General of Police (Welfare) wrote to all empanelled hospitals to refer coronavirus-positive cases to Gandhi Hospital, as it is not covered under EHS tariff and the government will not reimburse any amount. The letter also stated that the empanelled hospitals are requested to refer all such cases to Gandhi Hospital, where a separate provision has been made on the eighth floor of the building to provide COVID treatment to government employees.

“Though, a separate ward is dedicated to police personnel at Gandhi hospital, what is wrong in including the infection in ABS? Even we want the best treatment at private hospitals, which many of us cannot afford. This can happen only if the top brass pursue it with the government,” said a Cyberabad SI.

Recently, office-bearers of police welfare association submitted a representation to Director General of Police M. Mahender Reddy, who assured them to take up the issue with Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao.

More than 68,000 police personnel, including 88 IPS officers and 18,000 trainee constables and sub-inspectors and their family members, are eligible to avail the health scheme.

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