INS Angre, a shore establishment of the Western Naval Command put under lockdown
New Delhi: At least 21 Indian Navy personnel serving at the Western Naval Command's base in Mumbai have tested positive for the coronavirus, triggering a big scare in the Indian military establishment.
Some 20 of these personnel are sailors at INS Angre, a shore establishment and hub of the Indian Navy in Mumbai.
Most of the cases are asymptomatic and have been traced to a single sailor who tested positive on April 7, 2020. They all reside in the same accommodation block at INS Angre. All primary contacts (even if asymptomatic) have been tested for COVID-19.
The entire in-living block of INS Angre has been made a containment zone and personnel have been quarantined. INS Angre is under lockdown, said an Indian Navy official. "All actions as the per established COVID-19 protocol are being taken," he added.
The INS Angre includes the Manor House, which is the seat of the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Naval Command. It is the shore-based logistics and administrative support establishment of the Western Naval Command and also houses the naval barracks.
Supplies to the Western Command's ships go out from INS Angre. However, there are no cases of infection on board any of the ships and submarines of the Indian Navy.
This is the first such case of a sizeable number of Indian military personnel being treated for COVID-19. The Indian Army has reported eight cases of the deadly virus so far.
Indian Navy had already issued a detailed advisory on COVID-19 for its personnel. It directed crew on submarines and warships to disembark at domestic and foreign ports only if it was essential.
The advisory said that when a COVID-19 case is reported onboard while at sea, the patient must be isolated and all close contacts of the patient should be quarantined. “It should be treated as an emergency and all efforts should be made to evacuate him to a hospital ashore,” said the advisory.
Last week, Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh, in a video message, told personnel that vital operational assets such as ships and submarines must remain free from the virus. "The coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented. The danger posed by this disease is real, imminent and unprecedented.”
COVID-19 is posing a challenge to navies around the world as social distancing is difficult in submarines and ships. On US navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt over 600 crew members, including its captain, have been found to be COVID-19 positive.