IAF transport aircraft carried out 50 sorties, airlifting 61 oxygen containers of 1142 MT capacity from various countries.(Twitter/Ministry of Defence)
IAF transport aircraft carried out 50 sorties, airlifting 61 oxygen containers of 1142 MT capacity from various countries.(Twitter/Ministry of Defence)

Armed forces fight the 'invisible army' as Covid-19 threatens India

The Army has mobilised its resources to set up new facilities to treat patients suffering from coronavirus, while the Indian Air Force has deployed its transport aircraft Navy’s ships to provide logistic support to facilitate the supply of oxygen and ferrying medical equipment from foreign countries
By Shishir Gupta, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAY 06, 2021 06:00 PM IST

The armed forces have waged a war against the spiralling crisis of the deadly second wave of the coronavirus disease in India, calling it an “invisible, yet deadly army”.

The Army has mobilised its resources to set up new facilities to treat patients suffering from coronavirus, while the Indian Air Force has deployed its transport aircraft Navy’s ships to provide logistic support to facilitate the supply of oxygen and ferrying medical equipment from foreign countries.

Union defence minister Rajnath Singh recently directed the armed forces to extend help to the civil administration to the tide over the growing crisis of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

He said that his ministry has given emergency financial powers the armed forces so that they can set up and operate quarantine facilities and hospitals and procure essential equipment. He added that the powers were in addition to the emergency financial powers delegated to Director General Medical Services of the three service wings and other medical officers their units.

In a blog post on his website, the defence minister wrote, “Nearly 750 beds in various Military Hospitals have been set aside for civilian use while the AFMS also dedicated 19 hospitals, over 4,000 beds and 585 ICU units across the country. Base Hospital in Delhi has been converted into a COVID hospital with capacity being increased from around 400 to 1,000 beds.”

The DRDO has set up a 500-bed facility each in New Delhi and Lucknow, a 900-bed hospital in Ahmedabad and converted ESIC Hospital in Patna to a Covid-19 hospital with 500 beds. Work is in full swing to set up similar such hospitals at Muzaffarpur and Varanasi.

The DRDO also developed blood oxygen saturation supplemental oxygen delivery system for soldiers posted at extreme high-altitude areas. The system will be useful for Covid-19 patients as their conditions become similar.

Meanwhile, the Army has provided 100 beds each at Lucknow and Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh to cater to the surge in cases. In Madhya Pradesh’s Sagour, a 40-bed isolation facility has been set up along with ambulance facility, while 100 beds have been provided at facilities in Bhopal & Jabalpur and 40 beds at Gwalior.

It has also established a 50-bed isolation facility Jharkhand’s in Namkuma and another 60-bed critical care facility in Pune and100 beds at Barmer in Rajasthan.

It has also deployed army medical personnel in Ahmedabad and Patna and battlefield-nursing assistants to Patiala administration for hospital management.

Rajnath Singh said the Indian Air Force has carried out 50 sorties, airlifting 61 oxygen containers of 1,142 MT capacity from various countries to augment the supply of medical oxygen. Even within the country, It carried out 344 sorties, airlifting 230 containers of 4527 MT capacity till 05th of May 2021.

Similarly, the Navy deployed its warships for shipment of liquid medical oxygen-filled cryogenic containers and associated medical equipment from various countries in the Middle East and southeast Asia to augment the mission for meeting the oxygen requirements. The first such consignment was brought in to Mangalore on Wednesday by INS Talwar from Bahrain.

“As the whole of India stands united in the fight against the current surge in the pandemic the Armed Forces are walking the extra mile for the nation to emerge a winner. Hard times demand the manifestation of an indomitable spirit to fight against the odds and that is what the country is doing at the moment,” the defence minister wrote.

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