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Indian Navy ships pressed into action as Oxygen Express to COVID-hit Lakshadweep

KOCHI: The Indian Navy ships under the command of the Southern Naval Command in Kochi are carrying out the Oxygen Express mission to assist the local administrations in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep (UTL), as part of the nation’s war against COVID-19.

Indian Navy ship Sharda, based in Kochi, began transporting critical medical supplies to the UT’s capital, Kavaratti, in the early hours today.

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To combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the stores contained 35 oxygen cylinders, rapid antigen detection test (RADT) kits, personal protective equipment (PPE), masks and other products.

At Kavaratti, employees from INS Dweeprakshak arranged the disembarkation of stores. The ship then went on its mission to the island of Minicoy, where oxygen cylinders and medical supplies would be disembarked.

In addition, the Meghna, an Indian Navy-hired vessel, has 41 empty oxygen cylinders from the islands.

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The vessel is currently en route to Kochi for the refilling of the empty cylinders, and will return to UT with filled cylinders shortly to ensure that the Oxygen Express continues uninterrupted. The operations are being carried out with the assistance of the Naval officer in-charge at Lakshadweep and the UT administration.

According to the sources, a naval contingent consisting of a doctor, two medical assistants, and an additional sailor arrived at Kadmat today to assist the civil administration in battling COVID-19. Personnel from the SNC in Kochi and the INS Dweeprakshak in Kavaratti have been dispatched.

To make up for the scarcity of beds on the islands, HQSNC has reserved 10 beds at INHS Sanjivani in Kochi, including ICU facilities, for patients from Lakshadweep. In addition, Naval Air Station INS Garuda has been activated to provide additional Naval airfield facilities for UT helicopters transporting patients.

Air evacuation pods, which were built in-house by the Naval Aircraft Yard in Kochi to transport COVID-19 patients from the islands and elsewhere, are also being prepared for emergency use.

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