MoD: Military to deploy more units to battle Covid-19 - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Saturday 4 April 2020

MoD: Military to deploy more units to battle Covid-19

Testing facilities, 15,000 beds, ICUs, military schools to be available (Above: Rajnath Singh chairs GoM meeting on Covid-19)
By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 4th April 20

With the national effort against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic being increasingly enunciated in the rhetoric of a “war”, the ministry of defence (MoD) announced on Friday the deployment of additional military medical and logistics resources to aid government health authorities.

The MoD said that, in addition to six quarantine facilities the armed forces have already established at Mumbai, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Hindon, Manesar and Chennai, the military will make available “high dependency unit” and “intensive care unit” beds in 51 armed forces hospitals across the country. 

“Some of these facilities are located at Kolkata, Visakhapatnam, Kochi, Dundigal near Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kanpur, Jaisalmer, Jorhat and Gorakhpur,” said a MoD release on Friday.

In addition, 15 other facilities are being kept ready as standby for use, if required,” stated the defence ministry on Friday. Together, these have beds for about 15,000 Covid-19 patients.

Army chief, General M M Naravane, has offered more than 8,500 doctors and support staff to assist the anti-Corvid-19 effort. 

As Coronavirus testing picks up momentum, five viral testing labs at Armed Forces hospitals, which are equipped to carry out Covid-19 testing, have been made part of the national grid. “These include Army Hospital (Research & Referral), Delhi Cantt; Air Force Command Hospital, Bangalore; Armed Forces Medical College, Pune; Command Hospital, Lucknow and Command Hospital, Udhampur. Six more hospitals are being equipped shortly with the resources to begin Covid-19 testing,” stated the ministry.

The armed forces have already handled 1,737 patients at the quarantine centres already functioning. Of these, 403 have been released, while three positive Covid-19 cases – two from Hindan and one from Manesar – were referred to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi for further treatment.

Besides the military’s primary function to safeguard India’s territorial integrity, it also has a secondary role “in aid to the civil authority.” Besides restoring law and order and civilian control in flashpoints like Jammu & Kashmir, this requires the military to assist in controlling natural disasters and pandemics, when called upon by the government.

The military is totally prepared to stand up to the demands made by government and the people,” stated Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat, to the media.

Rawat has also offered to allow the use of military school premises – currently closed due to the lockdown, and subsequently the summer vacation – as quarantine centres for persons who have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has mobilized its aircraft fleet for transporting essential supplies, medicines and medical equipment. “So far, approximately 60 tonnes of stores have been airlifted to various parts of the country. 28 fixed wing aircraft and 21 helicopters are on standby at various locations across the country,” said the defence ministry.

Meanwhile, special IAF flights have evacuated Indian citizens and transported over 25 tonnes of medical supplies. “A C-17 Globemaster III comprising of crew, medical team and support staff has carried 15 tonnes of medical supplies to China and airlifted 125 persons, comprising Indian nationals and few citizens from friendly countries on its return,” said the ministry. 

An IAF C-17 Globemaster III has also flown to Iran and brought back 58 stranded Indians, along with 529 samples for Covid-19 testing.

Continuing India’s tradition of assisting small Indian Ocean countries, a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft flew to the Maldives with 6.2 tonnes of medicines. “An Army Medical Corps team consisted of five doctors, two nursing officers and seven paramedics was deployed in Maldives for capacity building measures and assistance and in setting up their own testing, treatment and quarantine facilities between March 13-21,” said the defence ministry. 

The navy has readied six warships for assisting littoral neighbours. In addition, five naval medical teams are on standby for deployment in Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) has developed a five-layered nanotechnology face mask (called N99) and is ramping up per day production to 20,000 masks. DRDO is also engaged in modifying ventilators so that one machine can support four patients at the same time.

1 comment:

  1. That was good journalistic article, free of person biases and opinions. Leaves it to the reader to form an opinion.
    One question I have is if one lab can make 20K masks why not involve private/public sector to make it enough for India and also exports. Use this crisis to show that we can support the world.
    May be I am missing the actual count that we need or asking private/public is too time consuming.


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