Medical facilities of DPSUs, OFB to treat civilian COVID-19 patients: Rajnath after review meet

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New Delhi, Apr 24 (PTI) All health facilities of defence public sector undertakings and Ordnance Factory Board have been allowed to provide health services to civilians infected with the coronavirus, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Saturday.

Singh also said that the armed forces and the defence ministry will leave no stone unturned in providing all possible assistance to the civil administrations in dealing with the pandemic.

The defence minister's comments came after he reviewed efforts by the three services and various other wings of his ministry in contributing to India's fight against a fast-spreading second wave of COVID-19.

Singh carried out the review at a virtual meeting attended by Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, Army Chief Gen MM Naravane, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh and DRDO chairman G Satheesh Reddy, among others.

'Reviewed the efforts of Ministry of Defence and the three Services to fight against the current wave of COVID Pandemic through video conferencing facility. The Armed Forces and MoD will leave no stone unturned in providing all possible assistance to the civilian administration,' he tweeted.

He said the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is adding another 250 beds by Saturday evening at its Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Covid Hospital near the Delhi airport.

The addition will take the total number of beds at the facility to 500.

The defence minister said a 1,000-bed hospital has become operational in Gujarat.

Singh said work is in full swing to establish a COVID-19 treatment facility in Lucknow that would become operational in the next five-six days, adding the hospitals would be run by the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) in coordination with the Uttar Pradesh government.

'All health facilities of Defence PSUs & Ordnance Factory Board have been allowed to provide health services to local COVID-19 affected civilian population. The MoD officials and the three Services are closely monitoring the progress of various initiatives taken by the Ministry,' Singh said in another tweet.

The three services as well as other wings of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have been extending support to various state governments and union territories in dealing with massive spike in coronavirus cases.

Since Friday, the Indian Air Force airlifted empty oxygen tankers and containers to various filling stations across the country to speed up the distribution of the much-needed medical oxygen in treating COVID-19 patients.

The IAF has also been transporting essential medicines as well as equipment required by the designated COVID hospitals in various parts of the country.

On Saturday, one C-17 transport aircraft of the IAF reached Changi airport in Singapore to bring high-capacity oxygen containers to boost the oxygen supply in the country.

'The Indian Air Force is taking sorties to reduce the transportation time of Oxygen and other critical supplies. One C-17 has reached Changi airport in Singapore today. These containers of cryogenic oxygen tanks will help boosting the oxygen supply in the country,' Singh's office said.

India is struggling with the second wave of the coronavirus infection and hospitals in several states are reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds in view of a rising number of COVID-19 cases. PTI MPB SMN SMN