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West Midlands Police Chief Superintendent on a ventilator

A West Midlands Police Chief Superintendent is on a ventilator with Covid-19 symptoms while some forces are reporting high levels of sickness linked to the outbreak

Chief Superintendent Phil Dolby is being treated in an intensive care unit after falling ill just over a week ago.

CS Dolby, in charge of the force's criminal justice services, had been posting regular Twitter updates charting his progress and on Sunday 29 March posted a video showing he had been admitted to a hospital isolation ward.

He wrote on Twitter: "Now got oxygen mask, canulars, blood test, Covid tests, chest x-ray and some snory neighbours. Shame as it is daughters 15th birthday today. #Covid-19"

"Had some anxious moments in last 24 hrs. I've looked better too! Temp of 37.9 but somehow still feel really cold."

Updating people on Mr Dolby's condition yesterday (31 March), colleagues said: "He is currently in an ICU on a ventilator and is being looked after by the amazing NHS.”

"Positive thoughts and prayers for him please. #COVID19"

A force spokeswoman said Assistant Chief Constable Chris Johnson had been in continuous contact with Mr Dolby's wife and family who are asking friends and colleagues "to keep Phil in their thoughts and to pray for him".

Forces have already had their office and staff levels impacted by the outbreak.

Last week, Merseyside Police said 12 per cent of the workforce were off sick with around 5 per cent self-isolating for Covid-19 symptoms. The force confirmed today the number had not changed.

Cumbria and Greater Manchester forces both said 10 per cent of their workforces were absent.

The rate was 14 per cent in Devon and Cornwall as of Monday (30 March) and 6 per cent in Durham.

The Metropolitan Police reportedly have an absence rate of 20 per cent.

A spokesperson for the Met said: "The MPS is a large organisation of more than 40,000 people and whilst there are a number of staff and officers off sick and self-isolating, the Met continues to operate effectively. The reduction in officer and staff numbers is off-set by a reduction in crime and a reduction in calls to the MPS requiring a response.

"We continue to carry out our policing functions across the capital, including proactive policing such as this week’s anti-violence Op Sceptre activity.

They went on to say: "Staffing and demand levels are kept under daily review. We are confident that the plans we have in place will ensure we are able to provide a good service to London. We are the police, we will be out on the streets and able to protect people – it is our job and we will continue to do that."

Yesterday (31 March) Lincolnshire Police's Chief Constable Bill Skelly said around double the number of officers he would expect to be absent were not at work due to coronavirus-related issues.

CC Skelly said this was still "some distance below" where he believed the force would be.

He said: "We have roughly per cent who are absent for Covid-19 reasons. That's either because they have symptoms or because they are caring for others.

"If we see numbers rising towards a peak, we have to think, what can we do in order to alleviate the pressure on the force."

CC Skelly will be speaking to officers heading for retirement about postponing their decision and asking retired police to return in case the number of absent officers rises significantly.

Dorset Police's CC James Vaughan said: "Overall about 300 people out of a workforce of 2,500 that are self-isolating," he added.

CS Dolby is one of 1,000 West Midlands officers and staff off work or unable to carry out normal duties because of sickness or self-isolation. There are about 6,500 officers and 3,000 staff at the force.

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