At least 24 patients who had been admitted to the Army Hospital (Research & Referral) in Delhi for non-COVID issues tested positive for the virus Tuesday. The Army said all of them have been shifted to the base hospital in Delhi cantonment.
All 24 patients, who include serving and retired military personnel as well as their dependents, were in the oncology department at the hospital.
Sources in the military said that as on Tuesday, 88 serving personnel of the Army, Navy and Air Force have tested positive across the country, of whom 28 have been treated and sent home.
After the 24 patients were transferred, the Army said the ward where they had been kept at the R&R Hospital was sanitised, as per standard protocol.
On the source of the virus, the Army said an “investigation on source takes time and is under process”. Apart from the 24 new cases, a total of 74 military personnel, ex-servicemen and their dependents are in hospitals across the country, of who 60 are serving personnel, Army sources said. Further, 14 ex-servicemen and dependents have been treated and sent back, in addition to the 28 serving personnel who had tested positive earlier but have recovered since.
As per protocol, the Army said, “After a patient is tested positive, a detailed contact tracing is carried out, including of the family members”. After this, “quarantine protocol and testing of those in high-risk group is carried out”. This can take up to 48 hours.
The first case in the three forces was a 34-year-old Army soldier in Leh. The soldier’s father had returned from Iran on February 27 and was found positive on March 6. The soldier, who was on casual leave, had met his father and was later put in quarantine on joining back work, and tested positive on March 16.
In the Navy, 26 sailors had tested positive on April 18 in Mumbai, all of whom were staying in the same block at INS Angre, a “shore establishment” of the Western Naval Command that serves as a base depot for a range of important activities of the force.
Last week, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat had specified that the defence or operational preparedness of the forces has not been affected by the pandemic. He said, “None of our soldiers, sailors or airmen deployed on the frontline or required to perform operational tasks have been affected by COVID”.
“Preparations do not fall down in three to four months. If we were prepared before this virus struck us, we will be prepared when it ends. I would suggest you have faith in your armed forces, and they will deliver when the time comes.”
Navy Chief, Admiral Karambir Singh too had assured that the Navy’s capacity to protect India’s interests had not been impacted.
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