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Defence organisations engaged in mitigating people's sufferings amid COVID-19 surge: Rajnath Singh

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New Delhi, May 06: The Indian armed forces as well as organisations like Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and National Cadet Corps (NCC) are engaged in mitigating the sufferings of the people amid the COVID-19 surge, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday.

Rajnath

In a blog post on his website, Singh enlisted the steps -- including mobilisation of health professionals and setting up of new COVID facilities -- taken by the defence ministry's organisations to deal with the surge.

India has been badly hit by the second wave of coronavirus infections and hospitals in several states are reeling under a severe shortage of vaccines, oxygen, drugs, equipment and beds.

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Singh said emergency financial powers have been granted to the armed forces so that commanders can establish and operate quarantine facilities and procure items that are required to fight against the pandemic.

Various defence organisations such as the DRDO, Cantonment Boards, Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) have established COVID hospitals and facilities in various cities including Delhi, Lucknow, Bengaluru and Patna, he mentioned.

The AFMS has deployed additional doctors, including specialists, super specialists and paramedics, at various hospitals, Singh noted.

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"My ministry has granted an extension to short service commissioned doctors of AFMS till December 31, 2021, which has augmented the strength of AFMS by 238 more doctors," he said.

Singh also talked about the steps taken by the Indian Army to assist the civil administration to deal with the pandemic. He said the Army has provided 100 beds each to Lucknow and Allahabad, set up a 40-bedded isolation facility at Sagour in Madhya Pradesh and established a 50-bed isolation facility at Namkum in Jharkhand.

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Army medical persons have been deployed at Ahmedabad and Patna, and battlefield-nursing assistants have been provided to the Patiala administration for hospital management, the minister noted.

He also talked about the logistics support that is being provided by the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Navy in bringing required medical supplies including oxygen cylinders from outside India or in transporting these supplies from one place to another within the country.

Indian naval ships including Kolkata, Kochi, Tabar, Trikand, Jalashwa and Airavat have been deployed for shipment of liquid medical oxygen-filled cryogenic containers and associated medical equipment from various countries in the Middle East and South-East Asia, he noted.

The DRDO has also initiated fabrication of 500 medical oxygen plants with allocation received from PM Cares Fund, he said. Reacting to Singh's blog, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter: "'Jal', 'Thal' and 'Nabh'...our armed forces have left no stone unturned in strengthening the fight against COVID-19."

New coronavirus cases and deaths in India hit a record daily high with 4,12,262 new infections and 3,980 fatalities being reported, taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 2,10,77,410 and the death toll to 2,30,168, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday.

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