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COVID-19: Indian army takes over quarantine facility

Military staff take over medical screening in northern Delhi quarantine center

Cheena Kapoor   | 07.04.2020
COVID-19: Indian army takes over quarantine facility

NEW DELHI, India

In an unprecedented move, the Indian military has taken over a civil quarantine center for medical screening.

Currently serving alongside civilian medical professionals, military personnel will later take over the screening duties.

"Consequent to the request to take over the Medical Screening setup at Narela Camp, additional army medical staff are currently working along with civil medical professionals as part of the process of taking over the screening duties.

"In the interest of the smooth running of the facility, it is being ensured that the takeover process will be gradual," an army spokesman told Anadolu Agency, adding that there were currently no plans to take over more facilities.

Chief of Defense Staff General Bipin Rawat also visited the Narela facility last week to review the conditions there as the army medical team was being deployed.

According to data released by the Delhi government on Monday, the facility, located in North Delhi, currently has about 1,170 people under quarantine. The majority of people are from the Tablighi Jamaat who recently attended a gathering despite social distancing rules.

In another incident involving the group on Tuesday, an initial report based on security camera footage was filed against two people at the facility for alleged open defecation. Citing this as criminal behavior for intentionally spreading the disease, the action has led to bouts of anger among people already criticizing the group for spreading the disease in Delhi.

"As per the current narrative, issues related to the Jamaat are being highlighted more. If the concerned suspects have really committed a mistake, they should be punished. But, Jamaat people, in general, do not do such things," Shahid Ali, a Tablighi Jamaat advocate told Anadolu Agency.

"We're glad that the army is taking over, as they will not have a biased communal mindset," said Ali.

Of the total 4,858 cases in India, over 1,445 were contracted at the Tablighi Jamaat religious congregation in Delhi.

At least 9,000 people participated in the gathering last month, who later traveled to various parts of the country.

The government has quarantined over 25,500 members of the group and those who they came in contact with across the country, sealing five villages where some "foreign members" of the Muslim organization had stayed.

In her daily briefing, Punya Salila Srivastava, the joint secretary of the Home Ministry, said that 1,750 foreign-based members of the group, out of the total 2,083, have been blacklisted by the government.

Since appearing in Wuhan, China, last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 184 countries and regions.

Data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University shows worldwide infections surpassing 1.39 million with over 79,000 deaths. More than 295,600 people have recovered.

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