28 hospitals of Indian Armed Forces reserved for Covid patients

NEW DELHI: Twenty-eight hospitals of the army, air force and navy across India have been earmarked as COVID-19 hospitals to handle and treat coronavirus cases, which is part of the measures of the defence forces to help civil authorities.

The development was shared by Lieutenant General Anup Banerji, Director General Armed Forces Medical Services (DGAFMS). The DGAFMS heads the Armed Forces Medical Services (of the army, air force and navy) and is responsible to the government for the overall medical policy relating to the forces. Separately, five hospitals of the three defence services can carry out COVID testing. These include Army Hospital Research and Referral, Delhi; Command Hospital Air Force, Bangalore and Armed Forces Medical College, Pune; Command Hospital (Central Command) Lucknow; Command Hospital (Northern Command) Udhampur. Six additional hospitals are also being equipped with the resources to begin such testing.

The Armed Forces Medical Services has suggested setting up of medical facilities within train coaches in case of any eventuality. The army is also ready to provide assistance in the neighbourhood. It is ready to dispatch a Rapid Response Team to Nepal to assist them in dealing with the pandemic there. Earlier, a similar team was deployed in Maldives.

The earmarking of the 28 military hospitals happened following a meeting chaired by Banerji with the Director Generals of the Medical Services of the army, air force and navy earlier this week, government officials said on the condition of anonymity. It was decided during the meeting that the hospitals would cater for managing and treating coronavirus cases. This meeting was held subsequent to another one that took place at the Chief of Defence Staff Secretariat on beefing up the capabilities of the Armed Forces Medical Services to handle an increase in coronavirus cases across India. The defence forces were directed to help the civil authorities by building their capabilities in dealing with such cases at the forces’ facilities.

Some of these hospitals are Military Hospital Avadi, Base Hospital Lucknow, Military Hospital Gaya, Military Hospital Belgaum, Military Hospital Patiala, Military Hospital Panagarh, INHS (Indian Naval Hospital Ship) Nivarini in Odisha, INHS Jeevanti in Goa and 4 Air Force Hospital in Kalaikunda. Other hospitals are at Dimapur, Suratgarh, Ahmedabad, Akhnoor, Hindon, Karwar, Golconda and Bangalore.

“Presently, 28 service Hospitals have been earmarked as COVID hospitals for managing purely COVID cases. This will include armed forces patients as well as civilian patients transferred from state health authorities, in case their capacity is overwhelmed,” Banerji said.

Officials added that the hospitals will prepare logistics plans for evacuation, establishing isolation facilities and treatment areas, and manpower and equipment management. This is expected to happen over the next few days. “These hospitals will have facilities for isolation and managing coronavirus cases. The placement of medical and paramedical staff with the necessary equipment for handling these cases will take place,” an official said.

However, the availability of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) is a challenge at the national and global level, Banerji said. “The AFMS are geared up with adequate PPEs for use in our hospitals. Additional procurement is also being planned to tide over the crisis foreseen during the coming weeks and months, since the Armed Forces have been directed to augment medical resources for the civil health set up also,” he said.

The new facilities to be setup are separate from the existing isolation facilities that are already part of these hospitals. These hospitals are in addition to the ones that have already been converted to handle coronavirus cases of the armed forces and civilians, following the setting up of isolation wards. Some of these hospitals are Base Hospital Delhi and INHS Asvini in Mumbai. The armed forces have had one confirmed case, a 34-year-old soldier in Leh.

For formations along the Line of Control with Pakistan and Line of Actual Control with China, isolation wards at peripheral hospitals have been geared up, Banerji said. “Intensive information, education and communication campaigns are going on for serving personnel. Leave extension of those on leave as well as curtailment of leave to bare minimum have been imposed. Segregation facilities have been set up to observe troops already back from leave from various states,” he said.


Six quarantine facilities run by the armed forces are currently operational at Manesar, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Chennai, Hindan and Mumbai. So far, a total of 1,463 people, including foreigners, evacuated from COVID-19 affected countries have been housed and observed at these centres. More facilities have been readied and may be made operational within 48-72 hours, if needed. These facilities are at Kolkata, Visakhapatnam, Kochi, Dundigal near Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kanpur, Jaisalmer, Jorhat and Gorakhpur. More facilities have been readied and may be made operational within 48-72 hours, if needed. These facilities are at Kolkata, Visakhapatnam, Kochi, Dundigal near Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kanpur, Jaisalmer, Jorhat and Gorakhpur.

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