Coronavirus cases at CRPF’s Mayur Vihar camp touched 135 on Saturday after 71 more personnel of the paramilitary force tested positive.
According to sources, the Delhi government has now stationed a mobile testing van at the camp for quick sample collection and to ensure no one has to travel out of the camp, which has been completely sealed.
“The situation is serious. But it looks like the worst is over. There are 489 personnel in the camp, of which test results for 458 have come. As many as 135 have tested positive, while 323 are negative,” an officer with the force said.
The first infection in the camp, that houses the 31st Battalion of the force, was detected on April 20, when a paramedic who had returned from Kashmir tested positive. Since then the numbers have been rising, and all personnel present in the camp have been quarantined. Last Tuesday, a sub-inspector with the force succumbed to the infection at Safdarjung Hospital.
Sources said that before the infection spread, as many as three companies of the 31st Battalion had left the camp.
“Else we would be seeing even higher numbers. That would have meant greater density of people within the camp,” another CRPF officer said.
The officer added that a majority of those who have tested positive are asymptomatic. “They are fit…. Best possible care is being provided to them,” he said.
He added that Mohammed Ikram Hussain, the 55-year-old sub-inspector who died last Tuesday, had been suffering from hypertension and diabetes.
Meanwhile, sources said the CRPF has submitted its report to the Ministry of Home Affairs on lapses that led to the spread of infection in the camp. Sources said the report is understood to have admitted to the fact that the quarantine period as mandated by the central government had not been followed in the camp.
The Indian Express had on April 30 reported how a reduced period of quarantine, in violation of guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, was being seen as a possible reason for the spread of COVID-19 in the Mayur Vihar camp.
While MoHFW has mandated 14 days of quarantine, the CRPF reduced it to five days for its paramedical staff. This is believed to have led to an infected paramedic, who had returned from Kashmir, being released from quarantine and joining active duty, leading to the spread of the virus in the camp.
Sources said that following the announcement of lockdown on March 24, CRPF issued special orders reducing the quarantine period for paramedical staff from 14 to five days.
The order said that the quarantine period should be extended if the suspect shows symptoms, else he can be released and put on active duty.
Notably, this contradicted CRPF’s own COVID containment SoPs issued mid-March, where a mandatory quarantine period of 14 days has been mentioned.
The CRPF’s nursing staff member, who was on leave at home in Noida after returning from Kupwara in Kashmir, was asked to join the 31st Battalion of the force at Mayur Vihar camp on April 7. Under the MoHFW protocol, he would have had to stay in quarantine for 14 days but was released within five days due to the new CRPF order.
“Unfortunately, by April 16-17, he began showing symptoms for COVID-19. By then he had already mingled with staff at the camp,” an official said.
However, officials maintained that an asymptomatic CRPF personnel in the camp could also be behind the spread.
Meanwhile, five personnel of the ITBP, which guards the Sino-Indian border, tested positive for coronavirus in Delhi.
An entire company has now been put under quarantine. They had been put on law and order duty with the Delhi Police.
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