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Eleven Calliaqua police officers are off the job ill with a suspected rodent-borne virus – and the divisional police headquarters is to be closed and relocated within a matter of days. The magistrate’s court, upstairs of the station, is already closed.

The closure of the building, infested with three species of rodents, is coming just over a week after Justice Frederick Bruce Lyle openly criticized the appalling state of Judges chambers and magistrates’ courts.{{more}}

On Monday officers complained of head and stomach aches. Medical examinations identified a viral infection and cultures have been sent abroad to determine if it is the leptospira bacterium which causes leptospirosis.

In humans, typical symptoms can include fever, headaches, chills, sore muscles, vomiting, jaundice, red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or rashes. Leptospirosis can become considerably dangerous if not treated, potentially leading to kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, and respiratory problems.

Health officials have now confirmed what police officers have been saying for years – the station is a health hazard.

Commissioner Pompey admitted that the force was aware of the problems and said that Calliaqua was the worse of the lot and they were now urgently looking for an alternative location.

SEARCHLIGHT understands that a nearby commercial building was being considered but the owner was unwilling to release it.

Until a suitable building could be found, the station will be housed at the “Inspector’s residence” adjacent to the health centre while a mobile unit will be converted into the station house.

The office of Superintendent Kenville Quashie the Divisional head will be moved to the newly constructed station at Biabou.

Acting Chief Magistrate Sharda Bollers said that hearings will resume from October 22 on Mondays and Wednesdays at the Layou magistrate’s court.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves blasted the Opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) for the dilapidated state of all government buildings during the nearly two decades that they were in office. He told journalists earlier this week that he was not embarrassed by Justice Bruce-Lyle’s comments and said his only regret was that he did not use much stronger language to adequately describe the state of affairs.

Gonsalves said that his ULP government has paid attention to building maintenance and that more will be budgeted next year.

At the start of the 2006-2007 law term, Justice Bruce Lyle described the conditions at the magistrate courts as appalling and not conducive to productivity. He complained of leaking roofs, noisy, ancient air-conditioning units and very poor lighting in the Judges’ Chambers – substandard conditions which did not meet 20th century standards let alone those of the 21st century.