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Regional police service has 93 members off on pandemic-related illness leave

18 of the 94 positive COVID cases are civilian members of the force
WRPS Headquarters in Cambridge. Erin Anderson/CityNews

Chief Bryan Larkin outlined that the isolation requirements for vaccinated uniformed and civilian staff members are five days while for unvaccinated staff members it's 10 days. 

Larkin says the service needs to rely on rapid antigen testing as it doesn't have access to PCR tests any more. 

"A positive rapid test does equate to a positive case in our reporting mechanisms. We continue to do contact tracing, we look at a 48-hour period because our members to come into contact, but I can tell you in the last 30 days only three positive cases have been related to an on-duty exposure. The majority of our exposures are related to off-duty members." 

Larkin says that presents a challenge knowing that a test could be negative but a member could still have symptoms. 

He says members have the police's screening tool to help them through that and make a decision on how to proceed but every rapid antigen test that comes back positive is considered a case within the service. 

As of Wednesday at 6 p.m., Regional police had 93 members off-duty on illness leave related to the pandemic. 

"That was within a 24-hour period where it increased by 13 members. We tracked 24-hour periods, 57 of them are sworn members and 22 are civilian professionals," he said, "total positive cases is sitting at 90 but to give you some insight, up until Dec. 17th over the 20-month period we had 33 positive cases, so you can see the impact and the spread of the Omicron variant. Over the last 30 days, a significant increase in positive variant cases. 82 members are currently isolating, 11 members are self-isolating, 123 members are self-monitoring and following all the guidelines of public health and over the last 24 hours, we've reintegrated one person into the workplace."

As of 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon, WRPS updated the figure of total positive cases from 90 to 94 total positive cases. 76 are sworn members of the service and 18 are civilian. 

Larkin said the police force saw a significant reintegration when the province changed the isolation guidelines from 10 to five days.

"We saw significant change. We restricted travel, we restricted educational opportunities out of country and there are some essential training courses which may be outside the region but we're focused on workforce protection and adequate staffing, adequate response levels to manage the demands to our community." 

He adds the police service's emergency operations centre is fully functional once again.