At least twenty-six Indian Navy personnel, serving at the Western Naval Command’s base in Mumbai, have tested positive for the coronavirus.
This is the first major outbreak of the virus in any one single establishment of the armed forces.
All the infected sailors were serving at INS Angre, a shore-based logistics and support establishment that hosts barracks for sailors on shore and supplies ships at sea.
INS Angre has been put under lockdown and the sailors are all undergoing treatment at a Navy hospital, official sources said.
A large-scale contact tracing operation has been launched to track the people who may have come in contact with the sailors.
Sources told Deccan Herald that twenty-five of the infected sailors were staying in a barracks with single-room accomodations within the INS Angre complex, while one sailor was living with his mother in his own house. The sailor’s mother has also tested positive.
The Navy is carrying out virus testing of all people staying in the residential accommodation and it has been declared as a “containment zone”, while INS Angre was put under total lockdown as per the prescribed protocol of apex medical research body ICMR.
A statement put out by the Navy earlier had said “Most of these (cases) are asymptomatic and have been traced to a single sailor who was tested positive on April 7. They all reside in the same accommodation block at INS Angre.”
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.
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.”