New Delhi, March 26 (IANS) Amid rising Coronavirus cases in India, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday reviewed preparedness of the forces to tackle the crisis.Singh held a review meeting with the Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Secretary Defence Ajay Kumar and armed forces chiefs to seek what more can be done in the fight against COVID-19.Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Thursday that total number of Coronavirus cases in India has risen to 649 and death toll is 13. Out of 649 cases, 42 people have been cured, the ministry said.On Wednesday, General Rawat had said that armed forces have to operate beyond their mandate and help the country in the fight against the coronavirus.Further, Indian Army headquarter at iconic South Block, Raisina Hills, which remained closed on Wednesday after Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a clarion call for complete lockdown, was functional on Thursday with minimum staff of around 20 per cent. The office of Department of Military Affairs, also closed on Wednesday, was functional on Thursday.Indian armed forces chiefs had directed to reduce attendance in offices with effect from March 23, 2020, excluding personnel engaged in essential and emergency services directly involved in taking measures to control the spread of COVID-19.The forces had permitted "personnel engaged in essential services like medical establishments, fire, electricity/water supply, communication, post offices and sanitation services will continue to work."Personnel are told to be available on telephone and electronic means at all times for exigencies of work.Further, all army hospitals have been kept on alert to meet any eventuality.
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