Rajnath asks armed forces to ramp up efforts to check spread of coronavirus

NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday asked the armed forces, defence public sector undertakings and other military organisations to provide all possible assistance to civilian authorities in their efforts to halt the spread of coronavirus in the country.

He issued the directive while chairing a high-level meeting to review overall preparedness of the defence ministry in containing the spread of the coronavirus which has infected over 600 and killed at least 10 people in India so far.

India is under a 21-day lockdown from Tuesday midnight as part of efforts to check COVID-19.

In the meeting, Singh appreciated the proactive role played by the armed forces and various departments of the defence ministry in evacuating Indian nationals as well as foreigners from coronavirus- 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 in a statement.

Giving details of contribution by various defence entities, it said the DRDO laboratories have manufactured 20,000 litres of sanitiser and supplied to various organisations, including 10,000 litres to Delhi Police.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (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 ventilators, officials said.

The ministry said the Ordnance Factory Board has also ramped up production of sanitisers, masks and body suits while DPSU Bharat Electronics Limited is engaged in manufacturing of ventilators.

At the meeting, officials briefed Singh on various measures and assistance provided so far by the armed forces.

The Indian Air Force has made several sorties and evacuated Indian nationals from countries like China, Japan and Iran.

Various quarantine facilities of the armed forces have handled 1,462 evacuees and discharged 389. Currently, 1,073 people are being provided care at the facilities in Manesar, Hindan, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Mumbai.

Additional quarantine facilities are on standby with for 950 people.

The meeting was attended by Chief of Defence Staff Gen 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 and DRDO Chairman G Satheesh Reddy. (agencies)