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India's defence secretary tests positive for Covid-19

In a development that has unsettled the country’s top defence establishment in South Block on the Raisina Hill complex here, Union defence secretary Ajay Kumar has tested positive for Covid-19.

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Last Updated: Jun 04, 2020, 12.58 AM IST
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(This story originally appeared in on Jun 03, 2020)
NEW DELHI: In a development that has unsettled the country’s top defence establishment in South Block on the Raisina Hill complex here, Union defence secretary Ajay Kumar has tested positive for Covid-19.

Sources said defence minister Rajnath Singh and some other top military and civilian officers did not attend their offices on Wednesday after the report of Kumar testing positive sent shock waves down the corridors of South Block.

“Extensive contact tracing and major disinfection of offices in South Block is underway. There is a list of around 30 people who came in close contact with the defence secretary over the last couple of days. They have been told to go into self-quarantine,” said a source.

Defence ministry spokesperson A Bharat Bhushan Babu, on being contacted by TOI, refused to say anything on the matter. Repeated calls to Kumar, a 1985-batch IAS officer of the Kerala cadre, also went unanswered. The defence minister’s office, in turn, confirmed Singh did not go to South Block on Wednesday but said “he is not in quarantine” at his official residence.

The defence secretary is part of virtually all meetings summoned by the minister, while also regularly interacting with the military brass. His office is located on the first-floor of South Block in close proximity to the minister’s office.

Offices of the Army and Navy chiefs, General M M Naravane and Admiral Karambir Singh, are some distance away on the same floor. While the office of first-ever chief of defence staff, General Bipin Rawat, is temporarily housed in the basement of South Block, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria sits in the nearby Vayu Sena Bhawan.
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