New Delhi: A total of 20 sailors at the INS Angre, a stone frigate under the Western Naval Command in Mumbai, have tested positive for coronavirus.
ThePrint had late last night broken the story that 20 sailors had tested positive at INS Angre.
BREAKING: 20 sailors of @indiannavy test positive for Coronavirus at INS Angre, a support establishment under the Western Command in Mumbai. COVID protocols initiated. @ThePrintIndia
— Snehesh Alex Philip (@sneheshphilip) April 17, 2020
A former sailor of the Indian Navy in Mumbai with no travel history had earlier tested positive for Covid-19 on 7 April.
In an early morning statement, the Navy said the 21 confirmed cases of Navy personnel in Mumbai include 20 sailors of INS Angre, a shore establishment.
“Most of these are asymptomatic and have been traced to a single sailor who was tested positive on 07 Apr 20. They all reside in the same accommodation block at INS Angre,” the statement released by the Navy said.
It added that all primary contacts (though asymptomatic) were tested for Covid 19.
“Entire in-living block was immediately put under quarantine – containment zone and INS Angre too is under lockdown,” it said adding that all actions as per established Covid-19 protocol are being taken.
“There are no cases of infection onboard ships and submarines,” it said.
The sailors, who have tested positive for coronavirus, are now in quarantine and under treatment at the INHS Ashwini, a naval hospital in Mumbai.
Navy sources told ThePrint that the sailors were living in what is known as the “bachelor accommodation” and there was no travel history outside India.
The bachelor accommodation refers to dormitory-like spaces where all the sailors were living together.
Navy sources said that 15 of the 20 who have tested were “asymptomatic” – meaning that they did not show any sign of being infected with the virus.
“As a precautionary measure we aggressively tested everyone who were first contacts. Also the tests were carried out in private labs to fasten the process,” a senior Navy official told ThePrint.
Also read: Lockdown slowing virus spread, Covid-19 cases doubling in 6.2 days instead of 3, says govt
Navy awaiting formal tests results of more personnel
Sources said that had the Navy gone about with the protocol of testing those who were showing symptoms, then the positive cases would have come to just 5.
They added that the Navy is awaiting formal tests results of more personnel.
The test results of the 20 sailors came late Friday evening.
The sailors who have tested positive work at multiple and scattered outlying units and simply share accommodation at INS Angre.
Those who stay there include married men but with waiting periods of housing extending to as high as two years.
A stone’s throw away are docked the naval ships with thousands of men living in their depths even when in harbor.
The high number of positive cases has come as a big shock to the Navy establishment which had already issued a number of orders to prevent it.
The primary concern for the Navy was the prevention of the outbreak of any such case on board a ship.
The ships carry a large number of personnel in cramped spaces and hence any positive case on board a ship can quickly spread.
The US navy has been reeling under a severe onslaught of coronavirus which has led to the resignation of the Acting Navy Secretary.
ThePrint had on 25 March reported about the protocols put in place by the Navy. This included cancellation of all port calls by the ships which are operationally deployed until it is very necessary.
Earlier in March, the Navy had also postponed its largest-ever multilateral naval exercise, Milan, involving over 30 countries due to the coronavirus threat.
The exercise from 18 to 28 March has been postponed taking into consideration the safety of all participants and travel restrictions imposed by the spread of Covid-19.
Also read: IAS, IPS, IFS exam could be delayed, UPSC to take call after 3 May when lockdown is lifted
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