The Indian military has kept nearly a dozen quarantine centres on standby, while the Army has issued a new set of guidelines and stated that it is keeping resources ready for the government to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a Defence Ministry statement Wednesday, 11 quarantine facilities have been set up by the armed forces across the country and could be made operational in the next 72 hours, if needed. Four quarantine facilities are operational at present — the Army’s Manesar and Jaisalmer facilities, the IAF’s Hindan facility and the Navy’s Mumbai facility.
The Army, meanwhile, issued fresh guidelines earlier this week, in which it stated that location of a quarantine facility should be far away from where troops are stationed, healthcare facilities and other densely populated areas, sources said.
It also emphasised on cleanliness of the quarantine camps, a well-briefed medical staff and also asked its personnel to use personal protective equipment, such as gloves, masks, gowns, goggles, etc., wisely due to their limited availability.
According to sources, the arrangement of a quarantine facility would be for 30 days, but could get extended too.
The guidelines also stated every camp would have a 10 to 12-member medical team and an ambulance on standby for 24 hours and should have the wherewithal to collect and send out samples for COVID-19 tests, as and when required.
Army sources said the force will also have to keep Quick Response Medical Teams (QRMTs) at different locations for emergencies.
A senior Army officer said the Army is dealing with the outbreak in three stages, which are prevention within the force, assistance to the civil administration and planning for contingencies, which may arise if the coronavirus threat reaches the next stage.
Leaves of Army personnel to be withheld
Sources in the Army said leaves of personnel will be withheld unless there is an emergency and those returning from leaves from coronavirus-hit areas or with an international travel history should be screened or quarantined.
In the last few weeks, the Indian military has been working to ensure that adequate facilities are being set up to quarantine suspected coronavirus patients, with the Army, Navy, Indian Air Force (IAF) suspending non-essential training and movement until further notice, along with foreign work travel.