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A serving police officer has died but it is too soon to say whether his death is linked to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak, Dorset Police said today.

The unnamed officer, who was aged 56 and from the Bournemouth area, had been ill since Christmas with a chest infection.

He had then gone off sick off on March 19 and went  into self-isolation following COVID-19 guidance from the NHS after he began displaying symptoms. He died on Monday 30 March.

In a statement Dorset Police’s Chief Constable James Vaughan said: ‘I can confirm one of our serving officers sadly died at his home in Bournemouth just before 10am today, Monday 30 March 2020.

‘He was 56-years-old and had been unwell since Christmas with a chest infection. He had been off sick since Thursday 19 March and went into self-isolation following COVID-19 guidance from the NHS after displaying symptoms.

‘It is not yet confirmed if the death is COVID-19-related and I would strongly emphasise that it is too early to speculate on the circumstances surrounding his death.

‘We are all deeply saddened by the death. This is a huge loss to the police family and my thoughts and prayers are with the officer’s family, friends and close friends, many of whom are Dorset Police colleagues. I have relayed to them my deepest condolences.’

He added: ‘I would ask you to please respect their privacy at this very sad time.’

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