Armed forces provide over 8,500 doctors and support staff for treatment of COVID-19 cases

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Gen Rawat informed separate hospitals identified to deal with coronavirus-affected people

“The defence minister directed all the organisations to redouble their efforts and work in close coordination with other ministries/organisations of central government in this crucial time,” the defence ministry

NEW DELHI, April 1 (AGENCIES): The armed forces have made available over 9,000 hospital beds and more than 8,500 doctors and support staff across the country to deal with the rising cases of coronavirus infection.

Additionally, nearly 25,000 volunteers of National Cadet Corps (NCC) are being mobilised to provide assistance to civil administration to cope up with the increasing number of infected people, officials said after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the military’s efforts to fight the pandemic.

Singh carried out a comprehensive review of contribution by the three services and various wings of the defence ministry in helping civil authorities deal with coronavirus at a video conference with top military brass.

“The defence minister directed all the organisations to redouble their efforts and work in close coordination with other ministries/organisations of central government in this crucial time,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria, Chief of Army Staff Gen M M Naravane and Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar were among those who participated in the deliberations. The number of coronavirus cases increased rapidly in the last few days. India has recorded over 1,600 positive cases of coronavirus and at least 38 deaths so far. Globally, the virus has infected more than 850,000 people and claimed around 42,000 lives.

In the meeting Gen Rawat informed that separate hospitals have been identified to exclusively deal with coronavirus-affected people and that more than 9,000 hospital beds have been made available for it, a defence ministry spokesperson said.

Gen Naravane informed Singh that more than 8,500 doctors and support staff are available to extend necessary assistance to civilian administration. Referring to Singh’s direction that help should be provided to neighbouring countries, the Army Chief said assistance to Nepal in the form of medical equipment will be delivered shortly.

The Chief of Naval Staff informed the defence minister that naval ships are on standby to extend any required assistance. He said the Navy is also extending assistance as required by local civilian administration.

Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria said the IAF has conducted several sorties within the country in the last five days to transport approximately 25 tonnes of medical supplies. He said critical operational work is continuing while ensuring all necessary precautions. Chairman of DRDO G Satheesh Reddy said the premier defence research organisation is engaged in minor modification of ventilators so that one machine can support four patients at the same time.

Authorities apprehend a shortage of ventilators if the number of COVID-19 cases sees any dramatic rise as in other affected countries. Reddy said DRDO is providing 1.5 lakh litres of sanitizers to various security entities and other organisations across the country.

He said five-layered face masks, N99, are being made on war footing using nano technology. A total of 10,000 masks have already been made and soon per day production will be extended to 20,000. He said DRDO labs have also supplied 40,000 other face masks to Delhi Police, adding the organisation is also making arrangements to produce 20,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) per day for medical staff engaged in dealing with COVID-19 patients.

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