Railways converts 5000 coaches into isolation wards for Covid-19 patients, awaits govt direction on deployment

New Delhi: Railways has converted 5,000 coaches into isolation wards for those infected with coronavirus and is likely to deploy them in rural areas after consultation with the health ministry, officials said Saturday. The railways has set a target of converting 20,000 coaches to counter the pandemic, of which 5,000 coaches with 80,000 beds are ready to be deployed, the ministry said.

“The idea of converting these coaches was to ensure that in rural areas, in regions where medical facilities were not available, care for COVID-19 patients could be provided. The health ministry would guide us and we will deploy these trains. We will maintain them and make sure they are in good condition,” an official said.

He also said that if required railways could also provide the linen to be used in such coaches, but they will be for one time use only.

The official also said that the railways is also contemplating how the train, which will be non-air conditioned, can be insulated against the summer heat.

Officials say that there there were discussions within the railways to see if trains like the Lifeline Express can be produced where doctors would take care of all kinds of patients or something like the accident relief trains which are equipped with operation theatre.

However, the ideas were dropped because producing such trains would take more time and it was pointed out that the railway isolation units had been prepared as Level 1 COVID-19 Care Centre facilities.

There will be 10 coaches in each of these trains with the capacity to hold 16 patients in each. Officials say one airconditioned coach could be attached to these trains for doctors and other medical staff.

The death toll due to the novel coronavirus rose to 239 and the number of cases to 7,447 in the country on Saturday, according to the Union Health Ministry.

While the number of active COVID-19 cases is 6,565, as many as 642 people were cured and discharged and one had migrated, it said. As many as 33 new deaths have been reported since Friday evening, the ministry said.

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