Over 8.5k military docs, support staff ready to help tackle Covid-19: Army chief
More than 8,500 military doctors and support staff are ready to extend assistance to the civil administration to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane said on Wednesday. His comments came during a video-conference chaired by defence minister Rajnath Singh to review the ministry’s efforts to fight the novel coronavirus.
The army has alerted retired health professionals to stay prepared in this time of crisis.
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Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat told the minister that the armed forces have made more than 9,000 hospital beds available for Covid-19 cases and separate hospitals have been earmarked to exclusively deal with the coronavirus disease.
The armed forces have earmarked 28 service hospitals for managing Covid-29 cases.
Also, five hospitals run by the armed forces are equipped to carry out Covid-19 tests and six more would be added to the list soon.
“Over 1,000 evacuees are quarantined at facilities in Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Chennai, Manesar, Hindan and Mumbai. Their quarantine period will end by April 7,” Rawat said during the video-conference that was attended by the top military and ministry brass.
Last week, the army said it was prepared to extend its network of military hospitals and laboratory facilities to the civil administration to assist it in Covid-19 hotspots.
Lieutenant General Anup Banerji, who heads the Armed Forces Medical Services, said, “Retired health professionals have also been kept in readiness to volunteer their services…Necessary equipment has been procured and dispatched to various hospitals.”
Around 25,000 National Cadet Corps (NCC) cadets are being mobilised to provide necessary local assistance, said a defence ministry release.
Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria said the air force had flown 25 tonnes of medical supplies during the last five days. He stressed that critical operational work was being undertaken with all necessary precautions.
The essential medical supplies airlifted by the IAF include personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitizers, surgical gloves and thermal scanners, apart from medical personnel. “Regular airlift of Covid test samples from the Union Territory of Ladakh to Delhi is also being carried. Towards this, C-17, C-130, An-32, Avro and Dornier aircraft are being tasked on as required basis and IAF is adequately geared up to meet all the emerging demands,” an IAF spokesperson said.
During the video-conference, Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh said warships were on standby to extend any assistance required.
Defence Research and Development Organisation chief G Satheesh Reddy said a five-layered nanotechnology face mask N99 was being manufactured on war-footing. He said 10,000 masks have already been made and production would soon be raised to 20,000 masks daily. He said 50,000 litres of sanitizers made by DRDO labs have been supplied to various security entities, including Delhi Police. DRDO labs have also supplied 40,000 other face masks to Delhi Police. DRDO has also made arrangements to manufacture 20,000 PPE kits per day.
It is also engaged in modification of ventilators so that one machine can support four patients at the same time.
The defence minister directed all the organisations under the ministry to redouble their efforts and work in close coordination with other ministries to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.