Before induction in South Sudan, Indian troops to undergo 2 COVID-19 tests
New Delhi, Nov 14: Indian troops for UN peacekeeping in South Sudan are training hard at an army camp before their induction and will undergo two COVID-19 tests before being sent to that country, senior officials said on Friday.
Indian troops are "one of the most sought after" when it comes to deployment in a foreign country for peacekeeping, a senior official of the army.
"At present, our troops are already serving in South Sudan with blue helmets under the UNMISS and the new troops getting trained in the Khanpur Transit Camp in south Delhi will be inducted in batches to relieve those serving there right now in a phased manner. However, all precautions are being taken due to COVID-19," he said.
The UNMISS is United Nations Mission in South Sudan.
The official said before final induction, each member of the battalion undergoes rigorous training at the camp and has to clear two RT-PCR tests.
"One test is conducted 21 days ahead of the date on which they are to be flown for induction. And, those found negative are then quarantined at various facilities, including one at Manesar in Haryana.
Then they are administered another COVID test, 72 hours before induction. So, all precautions have been taken, besides social distancing norms," he said.
The purpose of "quarantining" them is to keep them safe so that they do not contract the infection, the official said.
Another senior official said that after reaching the destination country, there is a "mandatory 14-day quarantine to ensure safety of all troops".
One contingent of the battalion is slated to fly to South Sudan on November 27, he said.
At the Khanpur camp, a group of reporters on Friday were given a sneak peek into the training regimen of the troops, under "exercise Blue Helmet".
India is among the largest troop contributing countries to UN peacekeeping operations, which help nations navigate the difficult path to peace post a conflict.
Indian troops have served in such operations since the Korean War (1950-53), and in about 51 missions, of the total 71 so far done by the UN, officials said.