Press Trust of india

COVID-19: 135 troops from single CRPF battalion in Delhi test positive; more results awaited

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New Delhi: The number of COVID-positive personnel in a Delhi-based battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the country’s largest paramilitary force, has risen to 135, officials said on Saturday.

The men belong to the 31st battalion of the paramilitary, based in Mayur Vihar Phase-III area of the national capital, that has been entirely sealed after the huge numbers of the COVID-19 infection started building up over the last few days.

“A total of 135 troopers of this battalion have tested positive for the virus,” a senior official said.

A total of 480 samples were taken from the unit, out of which 458 results have come and 22 are awaited.

A mobile coronavirus testing lab has been stationed on the premises of the battalion to ensure quick collection of samples.

A special sanitisation drive is being conducted on the campus and in its vicinity, the officials said.

The brighter side is that the maximum of these infected troopers are asymptomatic and it is expected that they will be cured soon, the senior official said.

The personnel are admitted to an isolation facility of the Delhi government at Mandoli.

Twelve troopers had tested positive on Friday and a 55-year-old Sub-Inspector of this unit had succumbed to the disease early this week.

These huge numbers in a single battalion (of over 1,000 troopers) has rung alarm bells in the establishment after it was found that “dichotomous” orders were issued to check the spread of COVID-19.

While the general order in the force was a mandatory quarantine of 14 days for personnel joining back from leave or having suspected exposure to a coronavirus-infected person, CRPF officers said it recently came to light that the medical wing of the paramilitary issued a separate order in April stating that doctors and paramedics can be taken off the quarantine if they do not show any symptom after five days.

Officials have indicated that the primary source of the COVID-19 infection in this unit could be a constable (nursing assistant), who joined this battalion after finishing his leave period at his home in the Nation Capital Region.

The jawan is posted in an another CRPF battalion deployed in Kupwara of Jammu-Kashmir and it is not clear as to how he contracted the infection. The family members of this jawan had also tested negative.

It could be possible that some other asymptomatic personnel from the 31st battalion was the primary source of the infection for the unit, they said.

Personnel of this unit were deployed for rendering law and order duties along with Delhi Police in the recent past.

The force is investigating all these angles apart from an instance where it was claimed that the nursing attendant was not kept under strict quarantine in the battalion camp, leading to the spread of the infection.

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