NEW DELHI: In the first case of a major outbreak of coronavirus in the armed forces, at least 26 Indian Navy personnel have tested positive for the deadly disease at the Western Naval Command in Mumbai.
The infected sailors were serving at the INS Angre, a shore-based logistics and support establishment of the Western Naval Command.
They are currently undergoing treatment at a Navy hospital, official sources told this newspaper.
The sources added that most of the infected personnel are “asymptomatic” and have been traced to a single sailor, who had tested positive on April 7. They were staying in the same accommodation block at the INS Angre, they said.
The Navy is carrying out virus testing of all people staying in the residential building, the sources said.
The accommodation which has been declared as a “containment zone”. The INS Angre was put under total lockdown as per the prescribed protocol of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the top medical research body, they said.
“Importantly, there are no cases of infection onboard ships and submarines. The Navy has already issued orders to treat any such case onboard immediately by shifting the person to the nearest base,” the sources said.The Indian Navy is a three-dimensional force, and the paucity of space on warships, aircraft and submarines makes social distancing almost impossible. Meanwhile, an Army woman medical officer tested positive for the coronavirus disease in Dehradun on Saturday. Another officer who had recently travelled to Lucknow with her has tested negative.
Navy chief had appealed to his force to be vigilant
On April 9, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh asked his soldiers to ensure that the force’s operational assets, especially ships and submarines, remain free from the coronavirus, even as he pointed out that physical distancing is a “challenge” on board these vessels.