NEW DELHI: The Indian Armed Forces have stepped up their preparations against COVID-19 to meet any future requirements arising within the country and in the neighbourhood. Fifty aircraft are on standby only for internal requirements. All the services -- Army, Navy and Air Force -- are part of the preparations.
The Ministry of Defence said it is ready to assist countries sharing land or maritime borders with India under the Neighbourhood First Policy. “Six Naval ships loaded with HADR bricks are kept on standby for assistance at Vishakhapatam, Kochi and Mumbai to respond any requests from littoral neighbouring countries like Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh,” it said. Also, five medical teams are on standby for deployment in Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan & Afghanistan, added the MoD.
On Thursday, a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft ferried around 6.2 tonnes of medicines and hospital consumables to Maldives. An Army Medical Corps team consisting of five doctors, two nursing officers and seven paramedics was deployed in Maldives to assist in setting up their own testing, treatment and quarantine facilities from March 13-21.
Major additional resources have been dedicated and capability is being added for requirements within the country. The Ministry said the Indian Air Force has kept 28 transport aircraft and 21 helicopters on standby at various locations across the country. The transport fleet of the Air Force is functioning as a bulwark, assisting in transportation of essential supplies, medicines and medical equipment. So far, approximately 60 tonnes of stores have been airlifted to various parts of the country.
The Armed Forces are running six quarantine facilities at Mumbai, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Hindon, Manesar and Chennai which till now have handled 1737 persons, of which 403 have been discharged so far. In addition, 15 other facilities are being kept ready as standby for use, if required.
51 hospitals of the Armed Forces across the country are getting prepared for dedicated COVID-19 facilities including High Dependency Units and Intensive Care Unit beds. Five viral testing labs at Armed Forces hospitals which can carry out COVID-19 tests have been made part of the national grid. These are at Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Lucknow and Udhampur. Six more hospitals are being equipped shortly with the resources to begin COVID-19 testing.
Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) has deployed its resources to aid the civilian authorities at this crucial time.