At least 26 Indian Navy officials at the Western Naval Command in Mumbai have tested positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, reported PTI on Saturday. This is the first confirmation of coronavirus cases in the naval force that came a day after the Indian Army said there were eight cases among its troops.
All the infected sailors were staying at a bachelors’ residential block at the INS Angre, a shore establishment, the Navy said in a statement. The main naval dockyard housing warships and submarines is just a few hundred metres away.
“The 26 sailors who were placed in isolation after testing positive for Covid-19 at Mumbai, belong to INS Angre, a shore establishment,” the Navy said. “There has so far not been a single case of Covid-19 onboard any ship, submarine or air station of the Indian Navy.”
A statement the Navy issued in the morning, confirming infections to 21 officials, had said that most of the cases are asymptomatic and have been traced to a sailor who tested positive on April 7, reported ANI.
The Navy said that action has been taken according to the established protocol. The in-living block has been quarantined and INS Angre is under lockdown, and all residents are being tested. The sailors have been quarantined at a INHS Ashwini hospital in the city.
Swab samples of 130 people living in the residential block were sent for testing, of which the results of only 60 samples have arrived. The 26 positive cases are from the 60 samples. “The Indian Navy is committed to containing the spread of the infection to the maximum extent possible and remains operationally prepared as always, to meet any challenges in the maritime domain,” the Navy said.
The Navy also briefed Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and the top military brass. “Our naval assets continue to be mission-deployed in three dimensions, with all the networks and space assets functioning optimally,” the Navy said in the statement. “The Navy remains combat-ready, mission-capable and is in full readiness to partake in the national mission to fight the pandemic as well as to provide support to our friendly neighbours in the Indian Ocean Region.”
Last week, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh, in a video message, had told his personnel that vital operational assets such as ships and submarines must remain free of Covid-19.
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The sailors who have tested positive stay in the same residential block at INS Angre, reported NDTV. The authorities have considered the possibility of the Covid-19 patients’ movement around Navy facilities while on duty. The Naval dockyard in Mumbai, which contains the majority of the sword arm of the Naval Command is only at a few hundred metres’ distance from INS Angre.
INS Angre, also known as the Naval Barracks, provides facilities to all ships and units in the city. It controls and supervises the operations of a wide range of diverse units and facilities.
India’s tally as of Saturday morning stood at 14,378, data from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare showed. Of these, 11,906 people are being treated while 480 have died. As many as 1,991 people have recovered so far.