2 KV officers back home after possible COVID-19 exposure on duty proves negative
Everyone's relieved the tests of 2 citizens who weren't honest about symptoms came back negative, says chief
Two Kennebecasis Regional Police Force officers are out of isolation and back at home after the COVID-19 tests of two citizens came back negative, says Chief Wayne Gallant.
The officers had been isolating at a Saint John hotel for two days, awaiting the results, after realizing they'd been potentially exposed to the virus while responding to a call for assistance Monday morning.
"We are all very relieved," Gallant told CBC News on Wednesday.
Although they knew the test results would likely be negative as no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the province since May 6, "this was obviously still a source of considerable stress for the families and co-workers of the officers," he said.
Everyone is "just very happy it is resolved."
This was the first time since New Brunswick saw its first COVID-19 cases in March that members of the force, which covers Rothesay and Quispamsis, had to be put in isolation as a precaution.
On Monday, when the citizens called for assistance, they told dispatch they weren't experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, Gallant said.
As a result, the officers did not wear any personal protective equipment when they went to the scene just before 10 a.m.
But the citizens "weren't very truthful," said Gallant.
When the officers arrived, "several of the symptoms listed on the province's questionnaire, which is the one we use and our dispatch uses, were evident," he said, declining to elaborate.
Although the citizens could be charged with mischief, the chief said no charges will be laid.
The force has taken an educational approach to the pandemic, using charges as a last resort, said Gallant. "Most people have been compliant once educated.
"In this particular case, for whatever reason, they were a little fearful that we wouldn't respond to their particular situation if they were truthful to the questions which, you know, we made abundantly clear that that is not the case," he said.
"We will always respond, but by being honest it gives us the best opportunity to ensure the safety of the public, ourselves, co-workers and extended families."
Officers have access to a variety of personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves, surgical masks, goggles, white coveralls and face masks with approved ventilators, said Gallant.
The force is "reasonably stocked," but officers are not wearing PPE to every call, he said.
They are following the provincial government's guidelines for first responders about what actions to take or personal protective equipment to wear in certain situations.
On Monday, based on the citizens telling dispatch they weren't exhibiting any COVID-19 symptoms, and based on the type of call, which was not criminal in nature, the two officers "felt fairly confident that they could meet the requirements that are provincially recommended" by maintaining a physical distance of six feet, Gallant said.