As many as 26 Indian Navy personnel have been tested positive for COVID -19 within the naval premises at INS Angre in Mumbai. The sailors have been quarantined at a naval hospital in the city.
This is the first set of coronavirus or COVID-19 cases being reported in the navy. A massive operation to trace people who may have come in contact with the sailors is on.
A senior officer from the Western Naval Command said most of the COVID-19 cases found at INS Angre, a shore-based depot that provides logistical and administrative support to naval operations, are asymptomatic (cases that do not show symptoms of the infection) and have been traced to a single sailor who tested positive on April 7.
The sailors who have tested positive for COVID-19 are now under quarantine at INHS Asvini, a naval hospital. The Navy, however, clarified that no officer or sailor serving on board any warship or submarine has been infected.
"All the infected sailors reside in the same accommodation block at INS Angre. All primary contacts (though asymptomatic) have been tested for COVID-19 and the entire block was immediately put under quarantine -- containment zone and INS Angre too is under lockdown. All actions as per established COVID-19 protocol are being taken," said Commander Mehul Karnik, Defence chief public relations officer.
A Navy officer said, "Our naval assets continue to be missiondeployed in three dimensions, with all the networks and space assets functioning optimally. The detection of these COVID-19 cases is a result of meticulous contact tracing and aggressive screening/testing carried out by Western Naval Command after one sailor tested positive on April 7."
The officer added, the Navy has launched a large-scale contact tracing operation to track people who may have come in contact with the sailors.
"Since the sailor tested positive for Covid-19, the entire premises of the Unit have been sealed off and safety protocols have been enforced for personnel and their families, with door to door screening being undertaken for identification of cases, if any," said the officer.
Earlier, eight Indian Army personnel had tested positive for COVID-19, and last week, a former sailor of the Indian Navy, who resides at Navy Nagar, tested positive for coronavirus.
This former sailor had no travel history, which prompted the authorities to carry out extensive monitoring of the residential complex in Navy Nagar. In a video message to the personnel last week, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh stressed the importance of keeping ships and submarines free of the virus.
"The coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented and it has never been seen before. Its impact has been extraordinary across the globe, including India," he said