Covid - 19 hits SL Police | Sunday Observer

Covid - 19 hits SL Police

15 November, 2020

In March, when Sri Lanka was first hit with the Covid-19 pandemic, many pelope and organisations managed to survive the wave unscathed. Among them was one of the country’s most important government agencies tasked with maintaining law and order, the Sri Lanka Police.

Despite the constant and increased dealings with the members of public due to the Covid -19 situation, perhaps the only incident of concern occurred when in March several officers of the Habarana Police visited the business premises of a person for an investigation, only to later find out that the man had been infected with Covid-19. The officers were quarantined and to everyone’s relief they later tested negative for the virus. 

Sub cluster

DIG Ajith Rohana

But several months down the line as Sri Lanka is now facing the second wave of Covid - 19, the Police too has been affected giving rise to a Police Covid - 19 sub-cluster. At least 686 policemen have tested positive for the virus and over 3,000 are currently in quarantine. Even as another 74 officers had reportedly tested positive for Covid - 19 at the time of writing, Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said the Police Covid - 19 sub-cluster is now becoming dormant. According to him, the Police is taking every precautionary measure possible to stop the spread of the virus among its rank and file. 

This is of utmost importance as the Police have been one of the most important agencies on the frontlines battling Covid-19. Having their leave cancelled for months on end, the Police has been deployed to ensure lockdown and curfew regulations are adhered to. They have also been engaged in carrying out awareness campaigns about Covid - 19 among the populace while also distributing food and dry rations to low-income families. Some Police officers were also seen feeding street animals left starving during the lengthy lockdown periods. 

However, Covid - 19 fears began to spread among those in the Police force when on October 21, an Inspector attached to the Fort Police tested positive for Covid -19. The station had to be shut down and disinfected. Forty eight officers at the station were quarantined and additional staff had to be brought in to carry out their duties. Since then, it appears that no division of the Police has been spared. Over 56 officers of the Borella Police station including its OIC tested positive for the virus. Covid - 19 cases have also been reported from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID), Special Task Force (STF), the Minister’s Security Division (MSD), and other police stations such as Minuwangoda, Ragama, Foreshore and Mirihana. 

But how Covid-19 made its way into the Force continues to be a mystery. According to a top official, the Police Special Branch functioning under the Acting IGP of Police has now launched an investigation into this.

Though it was first assumed that persons working in Police canteens who visited the Peliyagoda fish market had first contracted the virus, concerns have been raised after several officers providing VIP security and no connection to the canteen workers have become infected with the virus. 

As the number of Covid cases in the Police has increased identifying the threat, Police sources said immediate steps were taken to quarantine the officers identified as close contacts of those who tested positive. Some were quarantined at their official quarters and barracks such as in Fort, Borella, and Maradana while others were quarantined at various quarantine centres including Aralaganwila and Kundasale. 


However, the process has not been without its issues. Officers quarantined in the Kundasale and Aralaganwila centres have complained at the lack of basic facilities including potable water. Those in Aralaganwila said the beds do not even have a one-metre distance from each other. Officers have claimed that only four poilet facilities exist in the Kundasale quarantine centre where at least 40 officers are currently quarantined. Due to the building having been recently constructed, the officers in quarantine have also complained of large amounts of dust and being unable to use the fans as a result. “We are concerned about getting respiratory issues,” one officer said. There have also been complaints about the quality of food being provided. 

It has also been revealed that several police officers who were being quarantined in the Borella police quarters have left for their villages prior to completing their quarantine period.

According to sources, officials had visited the quarters to provide dry rations and had found that occupants of seven officer quarters had left. 

According to a high ranking official, the Police will take action to rectify these issues. Since the issues within the quarantine centres have come to light the Police has appointed three Senior Superintendents of Police (SSP) to look into the welfare of Policemen and their families who have either been hospitalised or quarantined due to Covid - 19. 

The Police have also commenced an inquiry into the Police officers who have left their quarters while being in quarantine thereby posing a risk to the public. 


Dispelling any fears that members of the public may have in dealing with the Police, DIG Ajith Rohana said the police officers who were exposed to Covid - 19 are currently placed in quarantine centres and the cases being reported are those who are already in quarantine.

He said police officers who may have been exposed to the virus have not been deployed for regular duties. DIG Ajith Rohana said to additionally ensure the safety of both the officers and the public protective equipment is being provided to officers manning roadblocks and police posts. 

The Police have also taken steps to call in additional officers from other areas in the country to Colombo as the majority of the officers infected with Covid - 19 and quarantined are from the province. According to data from the Police, 87 Inspectors and Sub-Inspectors have been called for special duty while 760 Police constables and sergeants have also been called in to carry out the duties of officers affected by Covid -19. The 87,000 - strong Police Force will continue to engage in their efforts to prevent Covid-19 from spreading in Sri Lanka DIG Ajith Rohana said.