With the country in the grip of a second wave of coronavirus, the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) has seen a surge in the infection among its personnel over the last three weeks, with 2,727 cases as on Wednesday. This is up from 272 active cases on March 23, according to data from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
Among CAPFs, the BSF has seen the highest number of coronavirus cases in its ranks – from 59 active cases on March 23 to 1,820 cases reported on April 14.
The surge is also evident in the comparative last 24-hour data – from 32 cases detected in the 24 hours preceding March 23, to 577 in the 24 hours leading up to April 14.
In May 2020, during the first wave of Covid-19, the CAPFs recorded over 1,000 infections.
The forces have seen 16 deaths of its personnel so far this year due to coronavirus, with seven of these recorded in April. Sources said given the young age and fitness levels of the personnel, as also large-scale vaccination carried out among the ranks, the recovery rate is high.
More than 70 per cent CAPF personnel have been vaccinated so far, it is learnt.
Among BSF, a large chunk of personnel infected by the virus in the last one week are from its training centres in Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir, and Tekanpur, Madhya Pradesh, sources said.
“The Udhampur centre this week reported over 590 infections,” a BSF officer said. “Training centres tend to be vulnerable since the entire batch stays together, eats together and does all its work together. So if one person is infected, it can quickly spread through the entire batch.”
But, the officer added, vigorous testing is also a reason why more cases are emerging.
The BSF reported 463 Covid-19 in the 24 hours leading up to April 14 – on March 23, this figure was eight.
Following BSF is the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which on April 14 had 431 active cases. It had 90 personnel infected on March 23.
In CRPF, the ministry’s figures show, there were 260 active cases as on Wednesday, as against 116 on March 23.
While the spread has been relatively contained so far, given the size of the force at more than 3 lakh, a source said the real picture will be clear only after the West Bengal elections are over, as more than 50,000 CRPF personnel have been deployed on poll duty in the state.