A total of 32 Indian Army personnel and three Indian Air Force men succumbed to the deadly coronavirus, Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik said in the Parliament on Wednesday.
"The number of deceased due to Covid-19 in Army and Air Force are 32 and 3, respectively, and 'NIL' in case of Navy," Naik said in a reply to Congress MP Anumula Revanth Reddy in Lok Sabha.
The minister also said that the number of Covid-19 cases in the Army, Navy and Air Force stands to 16,758, 1,365 and 1,716, respectively.
About compensation to the family members of the deceased armed forces men, the minister said that as per the extant rules, there is no special compensation for deaths occurring due to infectious diseases while in service.
"However, all deaths while in service are awarded terminal benefits," he said.
The forces are at the forefront of the battle against the deadly virus since January this year.
In reply to another parliamentarian, BJP MP Jayanta Kumar Roy, Naik highlighted the role of the forces in the battle against Covid-19.
The minister said that Indian Naval ships Jalashwa, Airavat, Shardul and Magar were deployed as part of 'Operation Samudra Setu' to evacuate stranded Indian nationals from Iran, Maldives and Sri Lanka during the Covid-19 crisis.
A total of 3992 Indian nationals were evacuated safely to India as part of Operation Samudra Setu.
He also highlighted the steps taken to tackle the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the defence sector.
The minister said that beginning in March, procurement of essential equipment to tackle Covid-19 cases in Armed Forces Medical College (AFMS) hospitals was undertaken.
"Supply order for ventilators, oxygen concentrators, hand thermal guns, multipara monitors, PPE kits, face masks, sanitisers, disinfectants etc. were placed for all AFMS hospitals," Naik said.
He also stated that emergency procurement powers of the Director General Armed Forces Medical Services was sanctioned by the Defence Minister for procurement of additional equipment like RT-PCR machines and testing kits.
"As on day, there are 27 functional laboratories in the AFMS carrying out molecular testing for Covid using RT-PCR, TrueNat, CBNAAT and GenExpert techniques. Rapid Antigen Tests are available in the periphery for early diagnosis, isolation and contact tracing of cases," he said.
In line with the latest treatment trends at the national and global level, drugs like Favipiravir and Remdesivir have been made available in AFMS hospitals. "Plasma Therapy is also available in two hospitals of AFMS," the minister stated.
About quarantine facilities, the minister said that station quarantine facilities have been set up in all military stations where troops are quarantined after returning from leave for 14 days.
"Any person developing symptoms during quarantine is immediately tested and isolated, if found positive" he said.
Teams comprising medical and paramedical staff have been trained in tracing high risk contacts of confirmed cases for instituting quarantine measures. "Asymptomatic high risk contacts are tested between day seven and 10 of exposure," he said.
Covid care centres have been set up to augment hospitals where a large number of Covid patients are being admitted. Asymptomatic and mild cases are admitted to the Covid-19 care centres to decongest the hospitals.
The minister also stated that there were interactions with the Armed Forces Medical Services of friendly countries.
"Knowledge exchange and best practices for Covid control being followed by the US, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Sri Lanka have been adopted by the AFMS to optimise patient care," he said.
The DGAFMS has maintained continuous liaison to ensure that guidelines and policies issued by the apex bodies are implemented to optimise patient care.
"Multiple guidelines pertaining to control and management of Covid have been issued by the DGAFMS to ensure conformity of care across the three services," he said.