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‘Prepare or suffer’: CDS Gen Rawat delivers blunt message on Covid-19 battle

‘Prepare or suffer’: CDS Gen Rawat delivers blunt message on Covid-19 battle


Mangalore Today News Network

New Delhi, Apr 03, 2020: India’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen Bipin Rawat believes that India must break the Covid-19 virus chain by April 14, through the lockdown and social distancing, or be prepared to weather the long-term consequences of the pandemic, Hindustan Times reported.

 

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“The military dictum is ‘prepare or perish’, but in these times of Covid we have refined it to ‘prepare or suffer’. We must arrest the spread of the virus through a 100% lockdown and social distancing by April 14. With the harvesting season around the corner, India cannot afford the numbers to go up. The military is totally prepared to stand up to the demands made by government and the people,” Gen Rawat said in a phone interview.

He said that the army, navy and air force have moved into action by dedicating 17-18 hospitals to care for the infected, and the total bed capacity in the forces has been ramped up to 15,000 so far. “We have hospitals ready even in far-off places like Dimapur and Zakhama in Nagaland, even though the virus has not spread in North-east India. We have now two to three hospitals ready in each zone to treat, manage and control the infection,” he said.

The CDS said that the military and its doctors were constantly in touch with the Union health ministry, and he, as secretary of military affairs, was attending meetings with PK Mishra, principal secretary to the Prime Minister, and cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba.

Gen Rawat said that one ward in each hospital, including places such as Delhi where the base hospital is normally crowded, will be dedicated for Covid-19 patients. “We have created isolation and quarantine facilities in Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Jhansi to accommodate 500 patients each for treatment, to add to the capacity of para-military facilities, such as the one in Manesar,” he said.

The single-point military advisor to the government said that since army, navy and air force schools are closed due to the lockdown, the premises can be prepared as quarantine centres. “We have three army public schools, one navy school and one air force public school in Delhi. It has been decided that these schools should be made ready to be made quarantine centres, if required. Even though the capacities of these schools is about 1,500 patients each, only 200 will be put up in each school due to proper sanitation requirements. The same model is being readied in other parts of the country if there is a requirement, or in a worst-case scenario.”

Gen Rawat also said that the defence ministry has made an important change in the procurement manual by allowing advance payments to be made to the manufacturers of medical equipment such as ventilators, masks and protection suits. “We have already placed an order of 370 ventilators with the DRDO {Defence Research and Development Organisation} and are asking ordnance factories also for manufacture of masks and PPE {personal protective equipment} suits. The power to make advance payments has been given to director generals of armed medical services, army commanders, corps commanders and brigade commanders so that there is no shortage of any medical supplies, both for troops and the public,” he said.

The CDS also said that two naval medical ships were ready to help neighbouring countries in case of a medical emergency. The air force, which recently flew a 14-member team to the Maldives, is prepared to ferry medical supplies in and out of the country.

Although Gen Rawat is optimistic that India can contain the virus, he is “keeping his fingers crossed” and hoping that “social distancing, lockdown, and the Indian summer heat” will end the threat.


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