New Delhi: The Army has initiated Covid-19 testing in their hospitals as India gears up to test more people amid the coronavirus pandemic.
According to senior Army officers, five Army hospitals have been conducting testing of Covid-19. These facilities are Armed Forces Medical College, Pune, Command Hospitals in Udhampur, Lucknow, Bangalore, and the R&R Army Hospital in Delhi.
The decision in this regard came earlier this month, Army sources said.
The move comes at a time when the country — with just 52 government laboratories — clearly lacks adequate testing facilities.
With the rising number of confirmed cases, India has already expanded Covid-19 testing to private labs and asked every state to earmark at least one hospital to treat coronavirus patients.
The Indian Council of Medical Research, the country’s apex health research body, has put out a series of guidelines for Covid-19 testing in private laboratories.
Army to be trained to fight Covid-19
Sources said Army personnel are being nominated for training in various reputed medical institutes across the country, such as the National Institute of Virology, Pune, PGIMER, Chandigarh, King George’s Medical University, Lucknow, and AIIMS in New Delhi to be better prepared to deal with the pandemic.
The Indian Air Force, meanwhile, has designated the Command Hospital Air Force, Bengaluru, to conduct Covid-19 testing.
“To monitor the prevailing situation and provide immediate response and assistance as required, a 24×7 crisis management cell has been set up at Air Headquarters and various Command Headquarters. IAF aircraft are continuing to fly in medical supplies and doctors to Leh and flying out blood samples for Covid testing to Chandigarh and Delhi,” an IAF statement read.
The Defence Research and Development Establishment (DRDE) in Gwalior has also started conducting tests for Covid-19.
The DRDE, which is a part of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), is the nodal lab for the development of chemical-biological defence technologies.
Army issues fresh guidelines
The Army Thursday issued fresh instructions on measures required to fight the pandemic.
This included identifying additional infrastructure for setting up of quarantine or isolation centers in each station for the troops, extending the Army’s network of hospitals and laboratory facilities to assist civil administration in areas affected by the novel coronavirus.
The instructions further said a plan should be prepared for sidestepping medical personnel from lesser-affected areas to augment healthcare in severely-affected areas if required, and additional training of the Army’s own medical personnel at various hospitals to be better prepared to fight Covid-19.
The armed forces have put in place over a dozen isolation facilities across the country, of which, five are housing 1,073 people — most of them have been evacuees of different countries.
ThePrint had earlier reported that the military has put in place strict drills to stop coronavirus from getting into its bases, which included disallowing entry of civil contractual staff and staggered office and meal timings.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Thursday met Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, Army Chief General M.M. Naravane, IAF chief Air Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria and Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh to review the action plan of the Defence Ministry with regard to dealing with Covid-19.