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Police forces ready response for coronavirus civil contingency

Work is under way to ensure a coordinated response to the coronavirus outbreak, after one force quarantined three officers.

Whitehall officials are working at local level with resilience forums and guidance has been issued to all civil contingency leads.

It follows Staffordshire Police sending two PCs and a PCSO home as an official quarantine earlier this week after they came into contact with a female suspect who became unwell.

Guidance has already been issued to all forces by the national police lead for civil contingencies lead, DCC Paul Netherton of Devon and Cornwall Police.

This included information on Public Health England’s guidance for first responders, the provisions of the regulation laid by the Department for Health and Social Care, and information to officers on what powers they have for medical detention if someone is suspected of having Coronavirus.

Powers created by statutory instrument specific to the coronavirus allow for someone to be quarantined in the person’s home, a hospital or “another suitable place”.

So far, just nine people out of 5,216 people have tested positive for the virus. Most of these infections occurred in people who had recently travelled to or arrived from China.

COVID-19 is a new disease caused by a recently discovered virus, first identified in Wuhan City, China. Cases of COVID-19 have now been identified in other countries. COVID-19 had not occurred in humans before.

It affects the respiratory system and can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

People with symptoms of cough, fever or shortness of breath (difficulty breathing in children), and who have been in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, or Thailand in the previous 14 days, could have potential COVID-19.

The risk assessment is currently low for the UK and the advice for anyone who thinks they may have the virus or come into contact with someone who has it is to call NHS 111.

The NPCC said police forces were well prepared.

It added: “Work is also underway at a local level between MHCLG and Local Resilience Forums, where police are also involved, to ensure any necessary local responses are well coordinated across agencies.”

Staffordshire Police confirmed that their officers had been given the all clear by medics.

A spokesperson told Police Oracle: “It has been confirmed that tests show there is no risk of Covid-19 (coronavirus) or any concerns following the arrest of a woman in Burton on Wednesday (19 February). As a result, officers will be returning to duty.”

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