India’s paramilitary forces falling prey to coronavirus

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NEW DELHI, India

Over 7,000 personnel of India’s top three paramilitary forces have contracted COVID-19 so far, military officials have confirmed.

Thousands of paramilitary troops normally responsible for border security have been redeployed at COVID-19 treatment and quarantine centers across India, where infections are now over 1.33 million.

According to Saturday’s update, 48,916 more cases were recorded in the country over the past 24 hours, raising the total to 1,336,861, while 757 fatalities pushed the death toll to 31,358.

The worst-hit among India’s paramilitary forces is the Border Security Force (BSF), which guards the borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh, with 3,023 confirmed virus cases as of Friday evening.

A spokesperson told Anadolu Agency that at least 10 BSF personnel have died of COVID-19 so far, while the number of active cases within the force stands at 1,370. 

Similarly, the disease has claimed the lives of at least 15 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), India’s second-largest paramilitary force that works under the Home Ministry and deals with counterinsurgency.

More than 1,500 CRPF personnel are currently infected, according to a spokesperson.

“As of July 21, we have had 2,916 cases in our force, of which 1,520 are still active. We have lost 15 of our personnel, while at least 1,381 have recovered,” the official told Anadolu Agency.

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), which is similar to the BSF and patrols the country’s border with China, has recorded at least 937 cases so far, with 516 still active.

The ITBP is the sole nodal agency responsible for operating India’s largest COVID-19 care facility in the capital New Delhi.

The 10,200-bed facility currently has 100 ITBP personnel providing security and treatment.

The rising number of infections were the focus of discussions when India’s Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with the chiefs of all paramilitary forces last month.

“It has been decided that wherever barracks do not have enough space, forces will pitch tents to ensure social distancing,” newspaper The Indian Express quoted a paramilitary officer as saying after the meeting, which came in the backdrop of heightened Indo-China tensions.

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