The Indian armed forces are at war with Covid -19, the invisible enemy that has left a trail of death across major parts of the world, and now threatens to unleash its quiet fury on the Indian subcontinent. And leading this fight is the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS).
However, this fight is not so much about protecting its own ranks, which so far has seen just one case of Covid -19 infestation. A 34-year-old soldier has contracted the coronavirus from his father who had travelled to Iran in February on a pilgrimage and tested positive a few days after his return. Although another case has been reported from the IAF facility in Hindon but the infested person is not from the forces.
The Indian Army is waging a real battle to keep the virus from entering in big numbers. It responded to the threat by establishing a quarantine facility in Manesar near Gurugram, and followed it up by establishing and operating medical facilities at Jaisalmer and Jodhpur for evacuees from Iran, Italy and Malaysia.
According to the defence ministry, evacuees from Wuhan and Japan have already been discharged after observing full protocol. It is to the credit of the Indian Army that so far, only one case of COVID-19 has been reported from these facilities which have dealt with more than 1,200 evacuees, medical staff and air crew.
Evacuating Indians from Hotspots
On the first day of the 21-day lockdown, the Army facility in Jodhpur received 277 evacuees from Iran including 273 pilgrims. The evacuees, which included 149 women and six children, were transferred from Delhi to Jodhpur on Indian Airlines flights and screened on arrival at Jodhpur airport.