A Central Industrial Security Force official died of coronavirus infection on Friday, taking the death toll in the five paramilitary forces tasked with internal security to five, as the active COVID-19 cases climbed to over 530, officials said.
The assistant sub inspector-rank official, posted at the Indian Museum security unit in Kolkata, was the second Central Industrial Security Force personnel to die of the virus.
With his death, five Central Armed Police Force personnel have succumbed to COVID-19 -- two each from Border Security Force and the CISF and one from Central Reserve Police Force.
Officials said living in clusters, like barracks, and usage of common bathrooms and travel in vehicles by multiple personnel together are thought to be the main reasons for the spread of the infection in the forces.
Union home minister Amit Shah expressed concern over increasing COVID-19 cases in Central Armed Police Forces and said safety and wellbeing of the troops are Modi government's priority.
Shah also directed for proper arrangements for health check-up and treatment of 'COVID warriors' and timely payment of dues in case of casualties, a home ministry statement said.
The issue of a large number of coronavirus cases in the CAPFs was discussed at a high-level meeting, chaired by Shah and attended by directors general of the BSF, the CRPF, the CISF, the ITBP, the SSB and the NSG and senior home ministry officials.
At the meeting, the home minister said the Modi government is not only concerned over spread of COVID-19 but is making all out efforts to ensure safety, security and wellbeing of all CAPFs, the statement said.
He inquired about the situation regarding the security personnel affected by COVID-19 in each of the CAPFs as well as the cases that are found to be asymptomatic.
The five forces, about 10-lakh strong, have launched various measures to contain the infection by sanitising their premises and asking troops to strictly follow protocols.
"All instructions and directions of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare are being strictly followed. Frequency of sanitisation of workplaces/barracks have been increased.
"In addition to existing apparatus of sanitisation, water cannons are being used for quick disinfection of buildings and establishments, and BSF personnel are being repeatedly sensitized to firmly adhere to preventive measures," BSF spokesperson Shubhendu Bhardwaj said.
The total number of active cases in the CRPF, the BSF, the CISF, the ITBP and the SSB is over 530 and thousands of the personnel have been quarantined.
The Border Security Force has the maximum active cases among the five paramilitary forces at 221, with 30 reported on Friday.
Two BSF men have recovered.
The BSF spokesperson said in a statement that six fresh cases were reported from Delhi and 24 from Tripura.
"All of them are under the best available medical care at AIIMS-Jhajjar and G B Pant Hospital, Agartala," he added.
Out of the six cases from Delhi, two were posted at the headquarters and four were posted at other units in the city.
A personal staff of an additional director general-rank officer and a head constable in the personnel affairs wing at the headquarters tested positive for the virus, officials said.
A floor in the eight-storeyed headquarters in CGO Complex on Lodhi Road has been shut for sanitisation, the officials said, expressing concern over the rising number of COVID-19 cases at the headquarters as at least four personnel have been infected here till now.
The two worst numbers in the BSF come from units deployed for law and order duties in Jamia and Chandni Mahal areas (77) and from the frontier state of Tripura (78).
In the CISF, apart from the Kolkata official, a jawan posted at the Mumbai international airport has died. The force has 35 active cases including one in its VIP security unit based in Greater Noida.
The Central Reserve Police Force has a total of 161 active cases with three fresh cases reported in the last 24 hours.
The Indo-Tibetan Border Police, tasked primarily to guard the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control with China, reported 12 fresh cases from its Delhi-based units.
The number of total active cases in ITBP is 94, an official said.
The 80,000-strong Sashastra Seema Bal, guarding the borders with Nepal and Bhutan, has at least 17 active cases.