New Delhi: The Indian military has banned all non-essential foreign travel for its personnel as part of precautionary measures amid the global coronavirus outbreak.
Defence sources told ThePrint that an order to this effect has been issued for all three Services – Army, Air Force and Navy. It will remain in place until further orders are issued upon reviewing the situation.
This means that all study or project-related tours abroad are to be put off unless extremely necessary.
Sources also said that all Indian military personnel abroad have been asked to take adequate precautionary measures, avoid any public gatherings, and follow the policy laid down by the respective Indian embassies.
“In the military, especially the Army, it is all about community living. Large groups stay, eat and work together and hence the spread of the coronavirus is a threat,” a source said.
Besides the Army, which was the first to come out with a set of guidelines to its personnel, the IAF and the Navy too have issued orders now.
While the IAF has a limited team abroad currently, including the personnel who are in France for training under the Rafale fighter jet programme, the Navy has several personnel out in the international waters who could make port calls.
Navy sources said that a health advisory has been issued to all ships moving in international waters.
Earlier this month, the Navy was forced to postpone its largest-ever multilateral naval exercise, Milan, involving over 30 countries due to the coronavirus threat.
Services at the forefront
While the military is taking precautions, it’s at the forefront of India’s fight against the coronavirus outbreak.
The three Services have set up quarantine facilities at multiple locations across the country that can take in thousands of civilians if needed. The forces are in the process of identifying more sites to set up such facilities, said the sources.
In a first, a medical team, consisting of mostly military doctors, reached Maldives Friday as part of India’s bid to help its neighbours in setting up quarantine camps and treatment of coronavirus.