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Coronavirus threat: Armed forces personnel asked to avoid visiting malls, movie halls

The directions, which have been disseminated down the chain of command in the three services, state that serving personnel and their families returning from Italy, Islamic Republic of Iran, Singapore and Republic of Korea will be quarantined for 14 days.

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | Chandigarh |
Updated: March 12, 2020 10:03:53 pm
coronavirus india, Indian army, indian navy, indian air force, coronavirus precautions, coronavirus directions, indian express, Individuals at all levels have been instructed to avoid handshakes and close contacts with people having any respiratory symptoms. (Express File photo by Gajendra Yadav)

The Directorate General of Armed Forces Medical Services (DGAFMS) has issued detailed guidelines to the personnel of Army, Navy and Air Force on preventive and preparedness measures to be taken for coronavirus and this includes the direction that all armed forces personnel will avoid large festive congregations and visits to crowded places like movie halls, shopping malls etc. which involve close personal contact.

The directions, accessed by The Indian Express, which have been disseminated down the chain of command in the three services, state that serving personnel and their families returning from Italy, Islamic Republic of Iran, Singapore and Republic of Korea will be quarantined for 14 days. The location and execution of such medical quarantine will be decided by the medical as well as administrative authorities of the station in close inter-sectoral cooperation with each other.

“There has been a recent surge in the number of cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by novel coronavirus named as SARS-COV-2….There is a need to sensitise Commanders at all levels as well as serving personnel and their families regarding preventive measures that can be taken against COVID-19. In view of this, the service medical directorates are requested to issue necessary instructions for immediate implementation and ensuring strict compliance at all stations and units,” the letter states.

Individuals at all levels have been instructed to avoid handshakes and close contacts with people having any respiratory symptoms. Mass gatherings have to be avoided in the three services and a social distance of one metre has to be maintained from others. Other measures like frequent hand washing with soap and water, avoiding travel to animal farms or where animals are slaughtered etc. are also reiterated in the advisory.

Regarding preparedness of armed forces hospitals to combat the pandemic, the advisory states that all AFMS hospitals and clinics are to be sensitised regarding “graveness of the situation”. Medical officers at OPD and emergency departments have been asked to maintain a high degree of suspicion in all cases of respiratory distress. Travel history and history of contact with confirmed cases of COVID-19 will be specifically sought, the letter states.

Commandants and Commanding Officers of hospitals have been asked to identify isolation wards for inpatient care of suspected and confirmed cases. Availability of adequate quantities of disinfectants, medicines, consumables and personal protective equipment must also be ensured.

Meanwhile, Command Hospital, Northern Command, Udhampur, in Jammu and Kashmir, has deputed specialist doctors to manage patients and set up isolation wards using crises expansion beds. Life saving medical equipment, hazard suits, N95 masks and other protective equipment has also been procured, said a defence spokesperson. Outreach programme designed for active surveillance, contact tracing, quarantine, home isolation, counselling and health intelligence have also been organised.

Sources say similar measures are already being undertaken at all major military stations across the country. The Army has prepared new quarantine facilities at Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Jhansi, Gorakhpur, Kolkata, Chennai and Deolali for people who would be coming back to the country from abroad.

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