NEW DELHI: The number of COVID-19 cases in CRPF rose to 135 on Saturday, all from the Delhi based 31st battalion which has also witnessed a COVID-19 death, officials said on Saturday.
Government sources said that the union Home Ministry has taken note of the matter and has asked the force’s chief AP Maheshwari to explain the circumstances due to which the spread of the infection could not be contained.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) became 169 on Saturday with the Border Security Force (BSF) also recording 14 new cases—12 from Delhi and two from Tripura.
Besides the coronavirus cases from the 31st battalion, CRPF has two other cases-- one from the 194th battalion (Delhi) and the other from Ahmedabad wherein a personnel of Rapid Action Force (RAF), the specialised unit of CRPF, has been found COVID-19 positive.
BSF has 17 COVID-19 cases in total whereas CISF has six, ITBP has five and SSB has four cases of coronavirus.
All of ITBP and SSB coronavirus cases are from Delhi. In CISF, three cases are from Delhi, two troopers were found infected in Mumbai and one was found COVID-19 positive in Kolkata. There were some other cases of coronavirus in the forces too which have been cured.
55-year-old sub-inspector Mohammad Ikram Hussain of the CRPF’s 31st battalion had succumbed to the disease on April 28 and the headquarters of the battalion based in Mayur Vihar phase-3 area of the national capital was thereafter sealed.
This was the first COVID-19 death in CAPFs, comprising the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF), the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and Assam Assam Rifles.
Following Hussain’s case, a total of 480 CRPF troopers of his unit were tested for the infection out of which 458 results are out and 22 are still awaited. The only relief for the force is that most of the infected troopers are asymptomatic and are likely to get cured soon, officials said.
Four companies of the 1000-strength battalion were deployed outside and not stationed in Delhi when the infection is believed to have broken out in the headquarters, according to sources. Each battalion has seven companies comprising nearly 150 troopers in each company.
The infected troopers have been admitted to an isolation facility of the Delhi government at Mandoli and other personnel of the unit have been quarantined.
According to officials, the primary source of the Covid-19 infection in this unit could be a constable, a nursing assistant, who joined this battalion after finishing his leave period at his home in the national capital region (NCR).
This trooper is posted in another CRPF battalion deployed in Kupwara of Jammu-Kashmir and it is not clear as to how he contracted the infection. His family members had also tested negative for the respiratory disease, officials said.
The rising number of COVID-19 cases in the Central Reserve Police Force, the country’s largest paramilitary force, has become a serious concern for the security grid.
At the centre of the controversy are two directives sent by the Deputy Director Medical.
While the government’s protocol prescribes mandatory quarantine of 14 days for anyone suspected to have the infection, an April order of the medical wing of the force said a five-day quarantine is needed in such cases.
A second directive was sent by the medical wing of the paramilitary force on April 17, with the quarantine period changed back to 14 days, sources added.