COVID-19: First case in armed forces as jawan tests positive in Leh

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A 34-year-old jawan from Ladakh Scouts in Leh has tested positive for COVID-19, making it the first case in the armed forces. His father returned from Iran recently.

As a precautionary measure, the entire garrison of the Ladakh Scouts Regimental Centre had been put under lockdown beginning Wednesday morning and the entry and exit had been prohibited, Army sources said on Wednesday.

The jawan went on casual leave from February 25 to March 1 and rejoined the unit on March 2, Army sources said.

“His father returned from Iran after a pilgrimage by Air India flight on February 27 and was quarantined from February 29 at Ladakh Heart Foundation,” an Army source said. Even though the soldier rejoined from leave, he was helping his family even during the quarantine period and staying at Chuchot village for sometime, the source stated.

The jawan’s father tested positive for COVID-19 on March 6 and was isolated at SNM Hospital. “The jawan was also quarantined on March 7 and he tested positive on March 16 at 2230h and was isolated at the SNM Hospital,” the source stated.

His sister, wife and two children have also been quarantined at the SNM Heart Foundation.

On Tuesday, the Army postponed all courses starting from March 23 and cancelled all non-essential training, conferences and movements. However, courses in progress would continue with precautions, the sources said.

Some Army officers have expressed concern over training and exercises being carried out in Rajasthan despite COVID-19 being declared a global pandemic.

“Soldiers belonging to different parts of the country are camping in the open and carrying out mass training activities near Suratgarh, which is a potential threat to the locals,” one officer there stated. A directive on exercises is expected to be issued shortly.

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