Over 5k Indian soldiers infected as 2nd wave hits armed forces

Soldiers of the Indian and U.S. armies mark the conclusion of Exercise Yudh Abhyas, Feb. 21, 2021 in India. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Joe Tolliver, 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team public affairs)

More than 5,000 soldiers from the three services are currently undergoing treatment for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in military hospitals across the country, almost a fivefold jump in hospital admissions in the three weeks since a second wave of infections tightened its grip on the country, according to official figures accessed by HT.

The cases under hospitalisation in the military increased from 1,067 on April 18 to 5,134 on May 10, reflecting in some measure the wider national trend of a surge in coronavirus infections.

To be sure, the 1.5-million strong armed forces have largely managed to check the transmission of the virus and keeping the mortality rate low by adhering to strict Covid protocols — 133 deaths of serving soldiers have been reported since the pandemic broke out last year (including 17 in the three-week period cited above).

The figures show that the cumulative number of soldiers discharged from military hospitals after being treated for the disease after the first outbreak in 2020 stands at 45,413 (as of May 10, 2021). Almost all soldiers in the armed forces have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Veterans suffering from Covid also account for a considerable load at military hospitals. A total of 1,814 ex-servicemen are currently being treated at these hospitals, compared to 356 three weeks ago. At 1,027, the cumulative veteran deaths outnumber the serving fatalities — 44 veterans died on May 9 alone.

Military hospitals have discharged 5,242 veterans after treatment since last year. There are more than 3.2 million ex-servicemen in the country.

Dependents of serving soldiers and ex-servicemen are also battling the coronavirus in military hospitals. A total of 3,662 dependents of serving soldiers and 1,439 dependents of veterans were undergoing treatment in military hospitals as of May 10, compared to corresponding April 18 figures of 667 and 166.

The cumulative number of dependents in both categories discharged after treatment since last year stands at 11,820. Dependent deaths add up to 2,094.

Dependents include spouses, sons (till the age of 25 or when they start earning, whichever is earlier), unmarried/divorced daughters, parents with monthly income of less than Rs9,000 and special children for life. The number of military dependents in India is around 2.3 million.

Taken together, 12,049 soldiers, ex-servicemen and dependents are currently in military hospitals for treatment, with the cumulative death figure since last year being 2,611.

In all, military hospitals admitted a total of 77,135 soldiers, veterans and their dependents over the last 14 months and discharged 63,631 patients. Civilians are also being treated at military hospitals and currently account for 448 admissions, up from 71 three weeks ago. The hospitals have recorded 177 civilian deaths since last year.

While catering to the health needs of serving soldiers, veterans and their dependents, the military is also operating in full battle mode for national Covid relief and foresees a bigger role for itself in the coming weeks and months to help civilian authorities tackle the pandemic.


(c) 2021 the Hindustan Times

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