Railways to convert 20,000 coaches into isolation wards
New Delhi: The Indian Railways on Tuesday said that it will modify 20,000 of its passenger train coaches into quarantine centres to accommodate over 3.2 lakh novel coronavirus (COVID-19) patients across the country.
The national transporter, which has geared up to prepare the passenger train coaches into isolation wards said that as part of COVID-19 preparedness in a statement said, "It has been decided by Indian Railways that it would be prepared to modify 20,000 coaches into quarantine or isolation coaches to augment the quarantine facilities being created in the country."
Preparing to Combat Coronavirus: In a novel initiative, Railways has converted train coaches into isolation wards for COVID-19 patients 🛌— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) March 28, 2020
Now, Railways will offer clean, sanitised & hygienic surroundings for the patients to comfortably recover. #IndiaFightsCorona pic.twitter.com/miYO3LOGfN
The ministry said that to design the coaches as isolation wards, consultations were held with Armed Forces Medical Services, Medical Department of various Zonal Railways, and Ayushman Bharat, Ministry of Health.
The five Zonal Railway have already prepared prototypes for the quarantine or isolation coaches.
"These modified 20,000 coaches can accommodate upto 3.2 lakh possible beds for isolation needs," it said, adding that work on modification of 5,000 coaches, which are to be converted initially into isolation coaches has already started.
"These 5,000 coaches would be having capacity to accommodate upto 80,000 beds and one coach is expected to have 16 beds for isolation," it said.
The railways also said that only non-air conditioned ICF sleeper coaches are being planned to be utilized for conversion into quarantine or isolation coaches.
Highlighting the facilities in the isolation coaches, the ministry said that one Indian style toilet is to be converted into a bathing room which will also be equipped with bucket, mug and soap dispenser.
The ministry said that taps with lift type handle would be provided in washbasins and similar tap to be provided at proper height so that bucket can be filled.
The railways also pointed out that the first cabin near the bathing room shall be provided with two hospital or plastic curtains transversely in the aisle so that the entry and exit to the entire eight berth cabins can be screened off.
"This cabin will be used as store or paramedics area. Two Oxygen cylinders will also be provided by the Medical department for which suitable clamping arrangement on the side berth side of this cabin is to be provided," it said.
The railways said that both middle berths are to be removed in each cabin and extra bottle holders shall be provided in each cabin for holding medical equipment, two for each berth.
Mosquito net will also be provided on windows to avoid mosquito entry inside and each cabin will be provided with three dustbins with foot operated lids of red, blue and yellow colour suitably lined with garbage bags.
The railways said that the for the first 5,000 isolation coaches, Central Railways will be converting 482 coaches, 266 by North Western Railway, 338 by Eastern Railway, 473 by Southern Railway, 208 by East Central Railway, 486 by South Central Railway, 261 by East Coast Railway, 329 by South East Railway, 370 by Northern Railway, 111 by South East Central Railway, 290 by North Central Railway, 312 by South West Railway, 216 by North East Railway, 410 by West Railway, 315 by North Frontier Railway and 133 by West Central Railway.
The railways has already suspended the passenger, mail and express train services from March 24 to till April 14 in the wake of the nationwide lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 23.
Only freight train services and the special parcel trains are being operated to ensure the supply of the essential food items across the country.
On Tuesday, 1,251 cases of COVID-19 were found in India with 32 deaths.