A free online medical consultation service launched by retired military doctors in view of a massive surge in coronavirus cases in India was on Friday extended to citizens across the country, officials said.

The defence ministry roped in retired military doctors to provide online consultations to civilian patients under a telemedicine platform.

The service was rolled out on May 7 for Uttar Pradesh and extended to Rajasthan and Uttarakhand days later as more veteran defence volunteer doctors came on board.

Currently, 85 veteran defence doctors are providing their services on the portal and have provided online consultation to more than 1,000 patients, according to the defence ministry.

"After the successful roll out in three states, ex-defence OPD, now renamed as Defence National OPD, has been rolled out pan-India on May 14 and is available on http://www.esanjeevaniopd.in and www.esanjeevaniopd.in," it said in a statement.

It said the vast experience of the military doctors is being optimally utilised.

"This initiative will go a long way in obtaining necessary medical advice and consultation in the safe environment of patients' homes, avoiding unnecessary visits to hospitals and increasing the risk of getting infected with COVID and overburdening the limited health resources," the ministry said.

The service was launched under the e-Sanjeevani OPD platform of the Union health ministry.

The e-Sanjeevani OPD is a flagship telemedicine platform of the government developed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC).