A chain of 32 paramilitary forces hospitals across the country, with a total capacity of about 1,900 beds, have been taken over by the government for isolation and treatment of COVID-19 affected patients, officials said on Wednesday.
The "urgent" decision to use the 'composite hospitals' of these forces, also called as the Central Armed Police Forces, was taken after a high-level meeting of the Union home ministry that was chaired by the secretary of border management.
An order issued by the medical establishment of these forces said that these hospitals have been designated and earmarked for the "purpose of isolation-cum-treatment of COVID-19 patients as and when they arrive".
These 32 hospitals are operated by forces like the Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the Sashastra Seema Bal and are located at places like Greater Noida, Hyderabad, Guwahati, Jammu, Tekanpur (Gwalior), Dimpaur, Imphal, Nagpur, Silchar, Bhopal, Avadi, Jodhpur, Kolkata, Pune and Bengaluru, among others.
The total capacity of these 32 earmarked hospitals is 1,890 beds, a senior official said.
The order said as these hospitals face "acute deficiency" of skilled manpower and special equipments, efforts are being made to send specialist doctors and medical tools like ventilators and personal protective equipment, used by healthcare workers on duty, to these locations.
It has also been directed that arrangements should also be made so that people already admitted here, troops of these forces or their family members, could be shifted to another location incase the number of coronavirus-affected people increases.
The central government earlier this month had also directed the CAPFs to prepare quarantine facilities with a bed capacity to admit over 5,400 people at their 37 locations in the country to deal with coronavirus cases.
Border guarding force ITBP is already running the largest such CAPF quarantine centre, which can accommodate 1,000 people, in Delhi's Chhawla area.
The about 10-lakh personnel strong CAPFs work under the command of the home ministry and are deployed to render a variety of internal security duties apart from border guarding.