Till March 11, Brahmaputra’, cream and orange-colored three-storeyed building in Ghatkopar, just off Mumbai’s Eastern Express highway, housed defence security personnel who guarded the naval storage area.
By March 13, after a notice from the headquarters integrated defence Staff in new Delhi, the facility had been vacated, sanitised and converted into a quarantine facility for 44 Indian pilgrims arriving from Iran on March 13. The pilgrims, 20 men and 24 women from Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir, were stranded there during the Coronavirus outbreak.
The pilgrims, segregated based on age and gender, are checked by naval medical personnel in biohazard suits each day. No one has tested positive so far, but Surgeon Capt. Saugat Ray, the naval doctor in charge, says they will wait till the mandatory 14-day incubation period is over (March 27), before giving them a thumbs up. Scaling up this facility to accommodate more people might be difficult, but we are looking for other locations where quarantine centres can be created, he says.
The inmates can use their mobile phones, and have a common room with a television to unwind. the building also has a volleyball court and a reading room. A mess on the site brings them fresh food and Kashmiri kahwa tea. Capt. Ray, a community medicine specialist trained to prevent disease outbreaks, flew down to the army’s facility created in Manesar near Delhi before coming to Mumbai to set up this centre.
The Ghatkopar facility is one of nine Coronavirus emergency quarantine facilities created across the country by the armed forces to house visitors travelling into India from high-risk countries. The Manesar facility was the first one to be set up in late January. the quarantine facility has seen 455 individuals in three batches, from Wuhan, Japan and Italy.
As of now, six-armed forces quarantine facilities are operational, three-run by the army, two by the navy and one by the IAF. Nine more locations have been identified for such facilities if the need arises.