As surging COVID-19 cases overwhelm hospital facilities and oxygen-supported beds for severe cases, three naval hospitals under Western Naval Command (WNC) viz., INHS Jeevanti, Goa, INHS Patanjali, Karwar and INHS Sandhani, Mumbai have kept ready a few COVID oxygen beds for use by the civil administration.
In Mumbai, facilities have been set up inside naval premises to provide basic amenities so that migrant labourers are not compelled to proceed to their home towns. The naval authorities are also in regular communication with civil administration and all preparatory actions have been stepped up to offer any COVID contingency assistance, if requested.
Naval authorities at Karwar have similarly made elaborate arrangements for supporting nearly 1500 migrant labourers by supply of essential items, rations and basic healthcare. INHS Patanjali, the first Armed Forces hospital to treat civilian COVID 19 positive patients last year, is prepared to receive civilian COVID patients if there is any emergent requirement.
Naval teams at Goa had set up community kitchens during first wave of Covid-19 and are prepared to provide similar help as and when required. Further in addition to earmarking some COVID oxygen beds for civilians at INHS Jeevanti, Headquarters Goa Naval Area is exploring provision of oxygen to civil hospitals based on any requests received from the civil administration.
Gujarat Naval Area has offered support to the civil administration for transport of critical medical stores/ equipment to the COVID affected areas, setting up of community kitchens for the poor and other technical help as may be necessitated.
Presently, all naval hospitals are catering to the vaccination of service personnel and their dependents as also defence civilians and their dependents as per MoH&FW guidelines. On completion of the 18 years and above age group beginning 01 May 2021, the feasibility of extending the vaccination facility to civil population in the vicinity is being explored.
INHS Asvini at Mumbai has readied composite teams for deployment at short notice, including medical and non-medical persons trained as Battle Field Nursing Assistants for manning hospitals being set up for COVID care in different parts of the country under the direction of DGAFMS.
Even as the Command is geared up to offer all possible assistance to civil administration in tackling the COVID situation, the operational naval units continue to be mission-deployed towards ensuring security and stability in the maritime domain. In recent days WNC units have participated in exercises with friendly navies such as the recently concluded ‘Varuna 21’ with the French Navy; undertaken Search and Rescue operations off Mangalore; successfully seized a large quantity of drugs being smuggled through the sea route and have remained deployed in anti – piracy patrols to provide assurance to Indian merchant vessels plying the Arabian Sea.