New Delhi: The Army reported its first case of coronavirus — a 34-year-old jawan in Leh whose father had travelled to Iran — forcing it to take drastic measures across all its units in the country to prevent the spread of the infection.
The Army has quarantined all soldiers and colleagues of the jawan, who is attached to the Ladakh Scouts Regimental Centre in Leh.
“Community living is what is practised in the Army. Everyone exercise, eat, sleep and work together. The coronavirus is highly contagious and hence extra measures are being (put in place) to ensure that suspect cases are identified and there is no spread of the virus,” a senior Army officer told ThePrint.
Army sources said all courses starting from next Monday have been postponed while non-essential training, conferences and movement have been cancelled.
Army personnel are required to undergo various courses at different points in their career, which is necessary for their promotion prospects and also helps them stay abreast with the latest in the field of military and strategic affairs.
According to the health ministry, the total number of novel coronavirus cases in India has gone up to 147. As many as 14 people have recovered till now and three persons have died.
The Army patient
Army sources said the jawan was on casual leave from 25 February to 1 March, and had rejoined his regiment on 2 March.
His father, who travelled to Iran on a pilgrimage, returned by an Air India flight on 27 February.
“His father was quarantined from 29 February at Ladakh Heart Foundation… Even though the soldier had rejoined from his leave, he was helping his family also during the quarantine period and was staying at Chuchot village for sometime,” an Army source said.
The father tested positive for COVID-19 on 6 March and was isolated at Sonam Nurboo Memorial (SNM) Hospital in Leh.
The jawan was quarantined on 7 March and tested positive late on 16 March. He has also been isolated at SNM Hospital, along with his sister, wife and two children, the sources said.
The Army has already asked all units across the country to postpone non-essential mass gatherings such as festivals, welfare activities and public functions to deal with the spread of coronavirus.
All non-essential training and movement have also been cancelled until further notice, along with foreign work travel for all the three Services — Army, Air Force and Navy.
The Army, which has set up several quarantine camps for civilians, has ordered all Army hospitals to stock up on life-saving drugs.