The Indian Army will establish quarantine facilities for 1,500 people at different locations across the country in the wake of rising cases of novel coronavirus infections outside China, two officials familiar with the move said on Friday.
The tentative locations where such facilities will come up as part of the government's overall efforts to control the spread of Covid-19 include Jaisalmer, Suratgarh, Secunderabad, Chennai and Kolkata, said one of the officials cited above.
Service personnel have also been asked to utilise shopping complex facilities within cantonments and military stations and avoid visits to crowded areas, including shopping malls and movie halls, the second official said on condition of anonymity. The army has also asked its personnel to avoid non-essential foreign travel.
"In consonance with various advisories issued by the government, the Army Headquarters has issued detailed instructions with respect to preparations and emergency response in tackling Covid-19," said the first official. The latest advisory includes detailed instructions for actions at various military stations, army formations and service hospitals.
Local military authorities have been asked to exercise control to avoid or postpone non-essential public gatherings, the second official said. The advisory has asked military hospitals to establish isolation wards and have separate out-patient departments for screening of symptomatic cases to prevent avoidable transmission. These hospitals will work in synergy with local civil medical authorities and designated Indian Council of Medical Research laboratories. Also, regular health education and counselling activities will be carried out at all military stations.
The Indian Air Force has also issued guidelines to all HQs on dealing with the spread of the coronavirus. A circular issued on Wednesday said all social, official and welfare gatherings should be postponed or cancelled. Personnel have also been told to avoid non-essential travel. Earlier this week, the navy postponed its biggest maritime exercise called Milan due to the spread of coronavirus. The multi-nation naval drills were to be staged off the Vishakhapatnam coast from March 18 to 28. The Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses deferred a key security conference scheduled for next week due to the Covid 19 scare that was scheduled to take place in New Delhi on March 12-13.
Lieutenant General BK Chopra (retd), a former Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services, said, "From natural calamities to outbreak of communicable diseases such as the coronavirus, you can count on armed forces to deliver in an effective and systematic manner."