New Delhi, May 6 (PTI) The Central Reserve Police Force has constituted a special cell to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure protection to its troops as coronavirus infection cases among various paramilitary forces rose to about 400, officials said on Wednesday.
The country's largest paramilitary force (CRPF), with about 3.25 lakh personnel, also for the first time saw the lowest number of positive coronavirus cases with only three personnel reporting the disease in the last 24 hours.
The total number of COVID-19 infected personnel in the force stands at 161, which includes the death of a 55-year-old official last week.
The headquarters of the force located at the CGO complex in Delhi also opened on Wednesday after it was sealed for sanitisation three days back following detection of the virus in two personnel working there.
'A special cell for COVID-19 management has been created in the force that will look after all issues related to the pandemic across all formations in the country. As the force is deployed extensively for internal security duties and public relief works despite the coronavirus outbreak, it is important to keep personnel safe from this new occupational hazard,' a senior CRPF official said.
He added that a direction has been issued, after a review of cases by force chief A P Maheshwari, to sanitise all CRPF establishments every Saturday with disinfectants.
Also, personnel above the age of 55 and with co-morbid health conditions will not be deployed for heavy duty or frontline operational tasks, he said.
The Border Security Force reported 85 fresh cases of the novel coronavirus, taking the overall numbers in the force to 154 infections of the pandemic, a force official said.
Two personnel have recovered.
The BSF cases include over 60 troops who were deployed for law and order duties in the Jamia and Chandni Mahal areas of the national capital and six from the escort team of the inter-ministerial central team (IMCT) that toured West Bengal to check COVID-19 containment measures in the state.
At least 37 infected personnel are from the Tripura frontier of the force. Most of these cases in Tripura are asymptomatic. The troops have been in their camp after it was suspected that a jawan who came back from leave could have contracted the infection from outside, a senior BSF officer said.
The troops were performing essential and operational duties and that is how they contracted the infection, a force spokesperson said.
There were 69 cases in the force till Tuesday and hence the total stands at 154 positive troops in the 2.5 lakh personnel-strong border force tasked to guard India's borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The force headquarters, whose two floors were sealed two days back, is 'functional' from Wednesday, he said.
The Indo-Tibetan Border Police, primarily tasked to guard the Line of Actual Control with China, did not report any fresh cases and their numbers for coronavirus infection stand at 45.
The maximum cases, 43, are from a camp in south Delhi's Tigri area which has been sealed now.
The cases in two other forces, the Central Industrial Security Force and Sashastra Seema Bal, stand at 15 and 13 cases respectively.
Thousands of personnel in these forces are under quarantine and all steps are being taken to cut the chain of COVID-19 infection, another official said.
These forces, with a combined strength of about 10 lakh personnel, render a variety of internal security duties apart from guarding the border under the command of the Union home ministry. PTI NES RDM RDM