The paramilitary forces are fast emerging as a significant cluster for COVID-19 infections in the national capital — on Wednesday, 85 personnel from the Border Security Force (BSF) tested positive. The CRPF too reported a significant surge, with infections now at 161. The new infections in the BSF have pushed the case count in the force to 152.
Infections in ITBP are touching 50, while those in SSB are at 13.
Together, over 350 personnel in paramilitary forces are now said to be infected, and close to 320 are in Delhi alone.
The situation is particularly alarming in the BSF, where two-third of a company comprising 94 personnel has tested positive. The personnel were posted for law and order duties with Delhi Police at Jama Masjid and Chandni Mahal areas. While 31 of them had tested positive three days ago, 30 tested positive on Wednesday. The 30 men have been shifted to a BSF hospital in Jodhpur.
Others in the force who have tested positive are contacts of those infected in the BSF’s R K Puram hospital. A head constable of the force, attached to the office of a senior officer, had tested positive two days ago, leading to its headquarters being shut for three days. The other chunk of the force’s infections has come up in Tripura, where over 30 personnel have been found positive.
While most are asymptomatic, a BSF officer said, “The situation is bad for some in the R K Puram hospital as they are cancer patients or have kidney ailments. Their immunity is already very low.”
In CRPF’s 161 infections, there has been one recovery in Ahmedabad. Two personnel are infected in Noida, one in Kupwara in Kashmir, and the rest in Delhi. As many as 137 personnel have been infected in the force’s Mayur Vihar camp alone. CRPF headquarters also had to be shut for three days recently, after a constable was found positive.
“Among the reasons the virus spread so widely in the forces is because most of those infected remained asymptomatic. Most of these are young men, supremely fit and healthy. By the time the first few symptoms were detected in various forces, the virus had already spread. With aggressive testing, we are only finding what has already happened,” said a Home Ministry official.
A CRPF official pointed out that a large number of cases are being seen in Delhi because the national capital is testing far more.
Barring CRPF, all other forces claim their personnel got infected largely while doing law and order duties with Delhi Police, which has reported around 50 cases.
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