NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday reviewed his ministry’s action plan to tackle the coronavirus outbreak in India, even as the army is liasoning with the civil administration in different states to provide the support of its hospitals and laboratories while it is planning to send its medical personnel to severely affected areas.

While the armed forces have handled close to 1,500 evacuees at different quarantine facilities, army medical teams and navy ships are on standby to provide assistance to friendly countries in the neighbourhood.

Singh held a review meeting with senior officials of the defence ministry on its action plan to deal with the COVID-19 situation. During the meeting, he appreciated the proactive role played by the armed forces and various departments of the ministry in evacuating Indian nationals and foreigners from COVID-19 affected countries and ensuring their proper care at various quarantine facilities. “He urged the armed forces and other departments to gear up their preparedness and provide all required assistance to the civilian administration at various levels,” the defence ministry said.

The army is liasoning with the civil administration in different states and is prepared to extend its network of hospitals and laboratory facilities to assist them at coronavirus hotspots, an official said on condition of anonymity. This measure is part of the fresh instructions issued by the army to its formations to tackle the pandemic. Another instruction is to prepare a plan for taking out medical personnel from lesser affected areas to augment health experts in severely affected areas, if required. Additional training of the army’s medical personnel at various hospitals to be better prepared for tackling the pandemic will take place as well. The army will also identify additional infrastructure for setting up quarantine and isolation centers in each station for its own personnel.

Meanwhile, during the review meeting Singh was briefed on various measures and assistance provided so far. The Indian Air Force has made several sorties and evacuated Indian nationals from affected areas in China, Japan and Iran. “Various quarantine facilities of the armed forces have, so far, handled 1,462 evacuees and discharged 389. Presently, 1,073 persons are being provided care at the facilities in Manesar, Hindan, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Mumbai. Additional quarantine facilities are on standby with 950 beds capacity,” the ministry said.

Army medical teams deployed in the Maldives have since returned after completing their task. Army medical teams and two ships of the navy are on standby to provide required assistance to friendly countries in the neighbourhood.

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratories have manufactured 20,000 litres of sanitizer and supplied it to various organisations, including 10,000 litres to Delhi police. DRDO has also supplied 10,000 masks to Delhi police personnel. It is tying up with some private companies to make personal protection equipment such as body suits and also ventilators, the ministry said.

Ordnance Factory Board has also ramped up production of sanitizers, masks and body suits. Bharat Electronics Limited is also engaged in manufacturing of ventilators.

These organizations have been directed to work in close coordination with the Ministry of Health and other concerned entities to meet the exigencies emerging out of CoronaVirus situation.

Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria, Chief of Army Staff General M M Naravane, Secretary (Defence Production) Raj Kumar, Secretary (Ex-Servicemen Welfare) Sanjeevanee Kutty and Secretary Department of Defence R&D and Chairman DRDO Dr G Satheesh Reddy attended the meeting.

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