COVID-19 screening at the India-Pakistan border in Attari, Punjab (representational image) | Photo: ANI
Covid-19 screening at the India-Pakistan border in Attari, Punjab (representational image) | ANI
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New Delhi: The Indian military has identified six more of its hospitals to carry out Covid-19 tests and earmarked 28 other facilities across the country to exclusively deal with the outbreak.

ThePrint had earlier reported that five Army hospitals have been conducting Covid-19 testing.

Speaking to ThePrint, Lt General Anup Banerji, DG Armed Forces Médical Services (AFMS), said, “As of now, there are five hospitals across Army, Navy and Air Force which can carry out Covid-19 test using RT-PCR. Six additional hospitals are also being equipped shortly with the resources to begin testing.”

The military is also in the process of procuring additional personal protective equipment (PPE) to tide over the crisis. The armed forces have been directed to augment medical resources for civil health set-ups too.

Lt General Banerji also said the Armed Forces Medical College has initiated four research studies on coronavirus.

“The findings of these studies will be shared with all other departments. This will hopefully help better understanding of the coronavirus,” he said.

The top medical officer also pointed out that the National Institute of Virology is working on a vaccine for the coronavirus.

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Also read: India ramps up Covid-19 assistance to SAARC nations, team set to leave for Nepal

‘Have adequate PPEs for use in hospitals’

The military’s move comes at a time when the country — with only 52 government laboratories — clearly lacks adequate testing facilities.

Asked if the military hospitals are equipped with enough PPEs, Lt Gen Banerji said their availability was a challenge, both at the national and global levels.

“The rational usage of PPEs is very crucial and we have issued necessary advisory to that effect to the services. We, as AFMS, are presently geared up with adequate PPEs for use in our hospitals,” he said.

Asked about medical precautions being taken along the Line of Control with Pakistan and the Line of Actual Control with China, the Army officer said isolation wards at peripheral hospitals at these formations have been geared up.

“Intensive information, education and communication campaigns are going on for serving personnel. Leave extension of those on leave as well as curtailment of leave to bare minimum have been imposed. Segregation facilities have been set up to observe troops already back from leave from various states,” he said.

As of now, the Army has reported one case of coronavirus, a 34-year-old jawan in Leh whose father had travelled to Iran.

“He was on leave at his home in Leh, taking care of his father who had returned recently from Iran and suffering from Covid-19. The soldier has made an uneventful recovery,” Banerji said.

Also read: 3 US Navy sailors test positive for Covid-19 aboard aircraft carrier with crew of 5,000  


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