Officers of Blackburn's Greenbank police station attended a retirement gathering for a colleague. One of the officers at the gathering tested positive for coronavirus on Tuesday, July 21. Contact tracing of the party attendees led to a total of 22 officers who were at risk of contracting the virus. The officers are self-isolating but the police department assured that policing operations will not be affected by the absence of the officers.

The small gathering to celebrate the career of a retiring police officer took place at the Greenbank police station earlier this month. Keeping the risk of being infected by the coronavirus in mind, the gathering only involved nine officers. Even with precautions taken by the attendees, more than a dozen police officers are required to self-isolate now.

Days after attending the party, one of the officers started showing COVID-19 symptoms. Tests confirmed that the patient had been infected by the coronavirus. The patient informed the station of the diagnosis. The police department jumped into action and started tracking down all those who had come in contact with the patient.

Contact tracing was done for the nine party attendees. The officers had, in turn, come in contact with 13 other officers since the gathering. The department asked the unnamed 22 employees to take time off and remain in self-isolation in their homes. It is unclear if any of the 22 officers have tested positive or have undergone testing.

According to Lancashire Telegraph, the officers will remain in self-isolation for different spans of time depending on their contact dates. Once the self-isolation period is over, they will be able to resume their service.

Assistant chief constable Peter Lawson said that the decision was taken for the safety of the officers as well as the community. Lawson confirmed that the police department took action as soon as they were informed of the positive diagnosis of their employee. The officers being self-isolated has not affected the policing operations of the Greenbank police station, Lawson assured.

The Sun pointed out that Blackburn with Darwen Council warned of another lockdown due to an increase in the number of cases in the county. Residents of Lancashire ignoring COVID-19 safety guidelines has made it the new coronavirus hotspot.

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22 police officers asked to stay in self-isolation (representational image) Photo: AFP / Adrian DENNIS