Indian Air Force to set up 100-bed COVID care facility, open to civilians, at Jalahalli in Bengaluru

Published : May 06, 2021 10:58 IST

Air Marshal R.D. Mathur, Air Officer Commanding in Chief, Training Command, overseeing preparations for the 100-bed COVID care facility at Air Force Station Jalahalli in Bengaluru Photo: PTI

With Bengaluru in the grip of the COVID-19 virus, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has decided to establish a 100-bed COVID care treatment facility at Jalahalli Air Force Station (AFS). The facility will start functioning from May 6 and be open to the civilian population. Bengaluru has the highest number of active COVID-19 cases now, 3,01,712 as of May 4, among all cities in India.

The IAF’s decision comes on the back of all three service chiefs calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and briefing him on the steps they had and were taking to mitigate the impact of the virus.

Speaking to Frontline, officials from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the facility, which would initially have 20 beds, would start functioning with just oxygen concentrators. “Once oxygen availability is ensured by the State government, the remaining 80 beds will operationalised. We expect this to happen by May 20,” an MoD official said.

The 100 beds will include 10 ICU beds and 40 beds with piped oxygen supply. The remaining 50 beds will have oxygen concentrators. According to the Defence Public Relations Officer, the facility is expected to be manned by specialists, doctors, nurses, and other paramedical staff who will be drafted from the Command Hospital, Air Force, Bengaluru.

Admission to the facility will be coordinated by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike and the State government through a nodal officer. Officials from the MoD stated that the Karnataka government had assured all the “necessary support for pharmacy, oxygen and security”.

The IAF’s decision to establish a COVID-19 facility comes after a few Bharatiya Janata Party Members of Parliament representing Karnataka had appealed to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, requesting him to extend a helping hand by allowing the civilian population to use the assets and resources of the armed forces in the State.

Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Coal and Mines Pralhad Joshi who represents the Dharwad constituency, had pleaded with the Defence Minister to convert all armed forces hospitals in the State into COVID care centres. He had also requested the Defence Minister to direct the Defence Research and Development Organisation and other military establishments to begin operating makeshift hospitals in Karnataka.

The MP for Bangalore Central, P.C. Mohan, had also written to Rajnath Singh requesting that the armed forces be directed to establish a 1,000-bed hospital in the State.

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