The country's federal counter-terrorist commando force National Security Guard (NSG) reported its first coronavirus-linked death on Wednesday when a senior commander succumbed to the infection as officials alleged there was a delay in getting specialised treatment for him.
Group Commander (coordination) B K Jha was admitted to the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) Hospital in Greater Noida after he contracted COVID-19 and breathed his last early morning, they said. He was 53.
Officials said his condition deteriorated rapidly on Tuesday night and as the ventilator intensive care units at the CAPF hospital was not functional, he was put on a bipap (a non-invasive therapy) support system.
Doctors suggested that he needs a ICU bed and a search was initiated to find one for him at some other hospital, officials said.
"After a long search for a ventilator bed, a private hospital in Noida gave its nod but there was another delay in getting a cardiac ambulance to shift him."
"Finally, a cardiac ambulance from NSG arrived but the officer collapsed as he suffered a cardiac arrest while he was being wheeled into it around 3 am," a senior NSG officer said.
Officials in the CAPF medical setup told PTI that the Greater Noida hospital has "no manpower to run the ICU and hence NSG was asked to rush the officer to a hospital with ICU bed".
"Initially, an ICU bed was found at the Army hospital for him but as the entire medical infrastructure is overwhelmed by the huge number of coronavirus cases, his admission kept delaying from one facility to the other," a senior officer said.
The CAPF hospital has a ambulance with portable ventilator but Jha required a cardiac one.
Some days ago, another doctor from the CAPF medical setup had succumbed as he could not get an ICU bed, officials said.
This is the first death from coronavirus in the NSG. Jha was working with one of the administrative units of the force and was not in the combat wing, they added.
Jha, originally a 1993-batch officer of the Border Security Force (BSF) cadre, hailed from Bihar.
He joined the NSG on deputation from the BSF in 2018.
He had earlier served as the principal staff officer and commandant to the BSF director general.
Both the forces that function under the command of the Union home ministry condoled his death.
'DG and all ranks of NSG mourn his death and remember his distinguished service to the Nation. May Almighty rest his noble soul in eternal peace and give strength to his family to bear the loss,' the NSG said in its Twitter message.
The BSF said it stands by the family of the officer in these trying times.
The NSG, according to official data updated till Monday, has had over 430 COVID-19 infection cases till now, out of which only about 59 are active.
The 'black cats' commando force was raised in 1984 as a federal contingency special force and its primary task includes undertaking specific counter-terrorist, counter-hijack operations and rendering VVIP protection duties.
The CAPFs like the Central Reserve Police Force, BSF, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Central Industrial Security Force and Sashastra Seema Bal and two other forces under the Union Home Ministry, NSG and National Disaster Response Force, had over 66,000 COVID-19 cases among them, out of which over 7,900 are active, as per the data.
These forces, over 10 lakh in combined strength, have had about 248 deaths due to the pandemic till now.