At least 21 Indian Navy personnel serving at the Western Naval Command in Mumbai have tested positive for coronavirus, triggering concerns among the top military brass.
It is the first such case of a sizeable number of military personnel being treated for COVID-19. The Indian Army has reported eight cases of the deadly virus so far. “A total of 21 serving personnel have been tested positive for COVID-19 within naval premises at Mumbai. This number includes 20 sailors of INS Angre, a shore establishment,” the Navy said in a statement.
There has been no case of coronavirus onboard any of the ships and submarines of the Indian Navy.
A number of leading navies are grappling with the coronavirus pandemic. A sailor on board the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier, reported as many as 500 cases of the virus. The French Navy has also been hit by the pandemic.
The Navy said all the infected personnel are undergoing treatment at a naval hospital in Mumbai. It said most of the people infected by the virus had come in contact with a sailor who had tested positive for COVID19 on April 7. “They all reside in the same accommodation block at INS Angre. All primary contacts were tested for COVID-19. Entire in-living block was immediately put under quarantine,” the Navy said, adding the INS Angre too has been put under the total lockdown.
Sources said the top defence ministry officials as well as the naval headquarters are keeping an eye on the incident. They said the Navy has ordered all its establishments to maintain highest precaution to protect the personnel from COVID-19.
Last week, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh, in a video message, told his personnel that vital operational assets such as ships and submarines must remain free from the virus. “The coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented and it has never been seen before. Its impact has been extraordinary across the globe, including India,” he said. “The danger posed by this disease is real, imminent and unprecedented,” he noted.