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The Indian Armed Forces' Resolve To Fight Off Covid -19 Pandemic

Marking out its most coveted unit, the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) which is famed for its international outreach and peace movement across the globe has swiftly gone on task. The Indian armed Forces' resolve came with the response that Forces are prepared to take the challenges with all its might and will continue to support the National effort.

Photo Credit : IAF

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A million strong Indian Armed Forces is at war with invisible enemy- Covid -19. But so far with one confirmed case, Indian military is marking out its most coveted unit famed for its international outreach and peace movement across the world- The Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS). 

 A 34-year-old soldier, whose father had travelled to Iran, has been infected by the coronavirus, making him the first case of the disease in the army. His father had travelled on a pilgrimage in Iran last month and had tested positive for the coronavirus a few days after his return. There is another case reported from on IAF Facility in Hindon and that not from the Forces within.

Indian Army was the first to establish a quarantine facility in Manesar and at present is operating medical facilities for evacuees at Jaisalmer and Jodhpur with evacuees from Iran, Italy and Malaysia occupying these. According to the Defence Ministry, evacuees from Wuhan & Japan have already been discharged after full protocol was observed. Over 1200 evacuees, medical staff and Air crew kept in these facilities till now, only one case of +ve COVID-19 has been reported so far.

On the first day of the 21 Day Lock-down period, Army facility in Jodhpur received 277 evacuees from Iran that included 273 pilgrims. The evacuees included 149 women & six children were transferred on IA Flights from Delhi to Jodhpur and screened on arrival at Jodhpur airport before being taken to the medical facility which has been designed not just for isolation but also for mental & physical wellness through a regimented routine including some sports and recreational activities.

Indian Air Force’s C 17 ‘Globemaster’ aircraft has been making rounds across the world bringing Indian Citizen. A massive rescue operation was taken by IAF evacuating from Tehran. It had onboard 58 Indian pilgrims, who were stranded in Iran as the commercial air services between the two nations were suspended in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

According to the officials from IAF, Command Hospital Air Force Bangalore(CHAFB) has been designated as the first laboratory in the IAF to undertake COVID-19 testing which will greatly enhance the region’s ability to carry out quick testing of suspected cases and allow prompt and timely intervention where required. 
 
Not left behind is the Indian Navy which has set up a Quarantine Camp at INS Vishwakarma in Eastern Naval Command (ENC) for Indian nationals being evacuated from CoViD 19 affected countries. The Quarantine Camp is fully equipped to accommodate nearly 200 personnel with all suitable facilities and other arrangements.  

On 25 March, Indian Navy also took off with from INS Hansa with a team of four doctors from Goa State Health department to Pune. The medical team led by Dr Savio Rodrigues, HOD Microbiology, Goa Medical College, will undergo training to set up a COVID test facility at Goa. Having received a request from Navy for providing air transport by Flag Officer Commanding Goa Area, Navy immediately initiated necessary procedures and the aircraft took off in the morning of 25 march. A few samples of COVID-19 suspects have been carried by the medical team for testing. Navy's spokesperson said: "In an effort to augment Nation’s fight against the spread of CoViD-19, Indian Navy has set up a Quarantine Camp at INS Vishwakarma in Eastern Naval Command (ENC) for Indian nationals being evacuated from CoViD 19 affected countries."  

The Quarantine Camp is fully equipped to accommodate nearly 200 personnel with all suitable facilities and other arrangements.  Military official said the evacuated personnel in the camp will be closely monitored to ensure Social Distancing and under medical supervision in accordance with the protocols laid down by the Department of Health & Family Welfare by a team of naval personnel and medical professionals of ENC.     

At the HQ level, Army called off the day for office goers to review the situation and minimise exposure except for those involved in essential duties. The global lock-down has affected and significantly reduced the office work be it international cooperation, training events, postings, courses, duty moves etc. All courses due on 23 Mar 2020 or afterwards be postponed and classes involving more than 50 persons at one place be seized forthwith, Army Command announced.

Advisory has been issued by the Armed Forces on Social Distancing Measures for Prevention and Containment of Covid-19 and guideline have been sent across the country. Unit functions such as Bara-khanas, family welfare meets, large sports events, and parade at Sarva-dharm-sthal shall be cancelled. Facilities recording high foot fall and long queues as hospital, CSDs, Grocery/ Vegetable shops should have dedicated team of service personnel. And all non-essential travel and temporary duties will be curtailed and only inescapable situation. All three services have been direction of halting all foreign assignments/ courses/ UN Missions till 15 Apr 2020 

In addition to the above, more Army medical facilities at Jhansi, Binnaguri and Gaya are kept at standby with an additional collective capacity of 1600 beds. More facilities are kept at short notice. This does not include the additional capacity created and kept ready by the sister services i.e., Navy and IAF.

The unforeseen crisis unfolding every day, Government has also appealed to retired medical officers from The Armed Forces Medical Services to come forward. Speaking with the officials of Indian Army, the resolve came with the response that Indian Army is prepared to take the present and future challenges with all its might and will continue to support the National effort. Such conducts make Indian Forces unique in the world and it is no wonder that the Indian Armed Forces have been tagged as the most humanistic military in the world.