As part of India’s measures to assist neighbouring countries in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic , six Navy ships have been kept ready and five medical teams are on standby for deployment to the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan when required, the Defence Ministry said on April 3.
“Twenty eight fixed wing aircraft and 21 helicopters of the Indian Air Force (IAF) are on standby at various locations across the country for transporting essential supplies,” the Ministry said in a statement. The IAF’s transport fleet is being used to assist in transportation of essential supplies, medicines and medical equipment and so far, about 60 tonnes of stores have been airlifted to various parts of the country.
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The six naval ships with medical teams and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) kits onboard are on standby for assistance at Visakhapatnam, Kochi and Mumbai, a defence official said.
An IAF C-130J Super Hercules aircraft airlifted 6.2 tonnes of medicines to the Maldives on Thursday. Earlier, between March 13-21 an Army Medical Corps team consisting of five doctors, two nursing officers and seven paramedics was deployed to the Indian Ocean nation for “capacity building measures and to assist in setting up their own testing, treatment and quarantine facilities”.
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Five viral testing labs at armed forces hospitals, which can carry out the COVID-19 test, have been made part of the national grid, the ministry said. These include Army Hospital (Research & Referral), Delhi; Air Force Command Hospital, Bengaluru; Armed Forces Medical College, Pune; Command Hospital, Lucknow and Command Hospital, Udhampur. “Six more hospitals are being equipped shortly with the resources to begin COVID-19 testing,” it added.
The armed forces are running six quarantine facilities at Mumbai, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Hindon, Manesar and Chennai —where 1,737 people have been handled, of which 403 have been released so far. “Three positive COVID cases — two from Hindon and one from Manesar — were referred to Safdarjung Hospital in the national capital for further treatment,” the ministry noted.
Dedicated COVID-19 facilities including high dependency units and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds are being prepared in 51 military hospitals across the country. Some of these facilities are located at Kolkata, Visakhapatnam, Kochi, Dundigal near Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kanpur, Jaisalmer, Jorhat and Gorakhpur.