The Penal Police Station was locked down yesterday after officers arrested a man who defied a doctor’s recommendation to self-quarantine himself and contact the COVID-19 hotline.
Several officers on yesterday’s day shift were ordered to shower and change their clothes as they awaited further instructions from health officials up to late last evening. However, DCP Jayson Forde last night said the situation was dealt with and the station reopened with no danger to officers and the public.
Guardian Media learned that the Penal man went to the Siparia District Health Facility with flu-like symptoms on Wednesday. He was told to return home, isolate himself and contact the hotline for a possible test for COVID-19.
Instead, he spent the night drinking alcohol with his neighbour. Yesterday morning, officers responded to a report of a breach of a protection order after the man allegedly went to his sister’s home and threatened her with a knife. He was arrested and while being interviewed at the station, he began coughing. It was then he informed officers of the doctor’s order.
The officers contacted the health facility, where staff confirmed the man's story. They then contacted senior police officials who initiated a lockdown.
Forde said the officers met with the County Medical Officer of Health and complied with the guidelines given. They were allowed to leave the police station. The ill man was taken for medical care.
Forde said the man did not go through the entire station and based on the advice of medical experts, the area he was being held in was locked off and will be sanitised.
While the police station continues to operate, Forde said anyone who wants to report an incident to any police station can call the many numbers to avoid going outdoors or use the police service app. The officers will then determine whether a physical presence is needed at the station.
Yesterday’s incident was the second COVID-19 scare for the T&T Police Service. On March 26, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith ordered the closure of the Arouca Police Station after an officer with recent travel history developed flu-like symptoms.
Griffith said the officer travelled to St Maarten on March 4 without approval and returned on March 7. Instead of going into self-quarantine, he returned to work the following day. The officer in question was subsequently tested and the result was negative.