COVID 19 : Indian Navy as one of the confidants of our nation

It is been a while, that to augment Nation’s fight against the severe spread of COVID-19, Indian Navy is in full-swing, monitoring and extending their admirable sense of support for those are in need and certain affected areas of our nation.

To start with, be it setting up Quarantine Camps, under the aegis of Western Naval Command (WNC), Eastern Naval Command (ENC) and Southern Naval Command for Indian nationals who are being evacuated from COVID 19 affected countries to transporting medical samples timely for COVID -19 testing.

In recent, a Dornier aircraft of the IN carrying 38 samples for COVID-19 testing took off from INS Hansa to Pune on 31 Mar 2020. The samples were carried by an official from the Goa State Health department. The air transportation was arranged following a request by the Secretary (Health) to the Flag Officer Commanding Goa Area of Indian Navy.

The ongoing pandemic of COVID-19 has led to one of the biggest medical emergencies the world has witnessed in the recent times. In view of massive surge in the number of infected patients, the medical infrastructure of the nation is being put to its ultimate test. Amidst, all assigned official duties and tasks on-hand, Naval dockyard Mumbai managed to design their own low-cost temperature gun to combat the pandemic.

Naval Dockyard, Mumbai has designed and developed its own handheld IR based temperature sensor for undertaking screening of large number of personnel at the entry gates of the yard reducing the load on the security sentries at the gate. The instrument has been manufactured under Rs. 1000/ – through in-house resources, which is fraction of the cost of the Temperature Guns that are available in the market.

The 285-year-old Naval Dockyard (ND) of Western Naval Command (WNC) has an average influx of around 20,000 personnel entering the premises every day. In view of COVID-19, initial screening of these personnel entering the dockyard was essential to thwart the spread of COVID-19 within the yard and the Western Fleet. The most preliminary method to screen a probable patient is to check for body temperature by a non-contact means. The indigenously built handgun remained handy for the officials.   

Since the outbreak, the non-contact thermometers or temperature guns have become scarce in the market and are being sold at a very high cost. To overcome the scarcity and requirement of large numbers, ND (Mumbai) has designed and developed its own handheld IR based temperature sensor with accuracy of 0.02 deg Celsius. The non-contact thermometer has an Infrared sensor and an LED display integrated with a microcontroller which runs on a 9V battery. This initiative has provided a tool for undertaking screening of large number of personnel at the entry gates of the yard thereby reducing the load on the security patrols at the gate.

With the manufacturing cost of less than Rs 1000/- the dockyard has the capability to scale up production of these if required towards which sourcing of the components were also in progress, as reported.

When there is so much to cope up and manage in the hinterland, Indian Navy didn’t compromise an inch on their maritime supremacy.  On Thursday, Indian Naval ship INS Nireekshak, a Diving support vessel of Southern Naval Command, based at Kochi, was out on a mission patrol along the Kerala Coast, and, later came to the rescue of 10 fishermen who were stranded onboard Fishing Boat Saint Nicholas, of Tamilnadu origin on 01 Apr 20 off Kochi.

The boat with 10 crew, did not have enough fuel, water and provision to reach home port Kolachel in Tamilnadu and was found stranded off Kochi. INS Nireekshak, realizing that the boat was in distress extended assistance to the fishing boat by transferring 300 litters of fuel, water and provision to sustain them till they reach their home port. In View of the existing health advisories on COVID-19 it was ensured that all transfer was done without any physical contact with the boat or crew. The fuel water and provisions were transferred using IN war ship’s mounted crane.

The boat had departed from Kochi on 12th of March for fishing purposes in Arabian Sea and has not touched any other port since then. It was to enter Kochi for re-fueling and ration but was unable to do so view ongoing lockdown due to COVID-19 outbreak.

In light to this incident, Indian Naval ships continue to remain mission deployed during COVID-19 crisis and the deployments are being planned without any port visit to the extent possible or with at least a gap of 14 days at sea from the last port visit prior return.

No doubt, India as a nation has joined hands together to in all the ongoing efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and in support of the populace in distress. Goa Naval Area continues to extend a helping hand to the locals through distribution of food and essential supplies during enforced nationwide lockdown.

On 01 Apr 20, Headquarters, Goa Naval Area coordinated with the Councillor of Mangor Hill and distributed critical supplies to families of daily wagers, migrant labourers and low-income families at Gandhinagar. Around 1000 kg of essential provisions were distributed to 200 families. Additionally, 600 kgs of provisions were handed over to Shri Milind Naik, Minister for Urban Development and Social Welfare, for distribution to families who are in need.

Earlier last week, jawans of the Defence Security Corps (DSC) and Indian Naval personnel from INS Hansa had distributed food at several locations in Vasco, Goa. Approx. 320 people were provided cooked food at Vasco Railway Station, Bogda and Ram Mandir at Goa.

SNC rushed in to design a training capsule for non-medical personnel in support of fight against this Coronoa virus. The COVID core working group of Southern Naval Command has prepared a Training Capsule for Battle Field Nursing Assistant (BFNA) to train non-medical personnel who will work as force multipliers in case there are emergencies.

The core team consisting of Command Medical Officer, Commanding Officers of INS Venduruthy & INHS Sanjivani and Command Training Officer have used the BFNA concept and developed a small capsule. Basic concepts of Hand Hygiene, donning and doffing of PPE, concept of Biomedical waste management and carriage of casualty have been covered simply for the non-medical personnel. Simple strategies for infection prevention have also been dealt with in this course.

The training has actively been carried out at all units of Southern Naval Command as an attempt to train non-medical personnel who will work as force multipliers in times of emergencies. A total number of 333 personnel have been trained till date in Southern Naval Command, as per the official sources.

The writer is a Delhi-based independent contributor to print and online publications )