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500 Railways coaches, smaller nursing homes to boost Delhi’s Covid capacity

The Delhi government, meanwhile, declared all nursing homes with a bed strength between 10 and 49 beds as Covid-only facilities.

Written by Avishek G Dastidar | New Delhi |
June 14, 2020 3:45:02 am
500 Railways coaches, smaller nursing homes to boost Delhi’s Covid capacity A train with 10 coaches is already in Shakurbasti. (Express Photo by Amit Mehra)

Around 500 Covid isolation coaches of Indian Railways are being readied to be deployed in Delhi after the Arvind Kejriwal government requested for them to supplement the city’s health infrastructure in light of growing cases of coronavirus, a day before Home minister Amit Shah is to meet Delhi government top brass to discuss the situation in the capital.

The Delhi government, meanwhile, declared all nursing homes with a bed strength between 10 and 49 beds as Covid-only facilities. Specialised centres for eye, ENT, IVF and maternity homes have been exempted.The nursing homes have been asked to make Covid beds functional within three days, failing which action would be initiated. “In order to avoid intermingling of Covid and non-Covid patients in small and medium multispeciality nursing homes and also to augment the bed capacity for Covid-19 patients, all nursing homes in Delhi having bed strength of 10 beds or more up to 49 beds are declared as Covid nursing homes” stated an order by the health department.

Railways sources said parlays with the Delhi government had revealed that the state wants at least 250-300 of these coaches, to be deployed in Anand Vihar railway station area, serving mostly East Delhi. Railways is gearing up to remove all regular train operations from that terminal station to other stations to make room for deployment of 500 coaches, sources said.

On Saturday in the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi with ministers and senior government officials, the situation in Delhi was discussed.

Railway sources said that based on conversations with Delhi government functionaries, 500 coaches, or some 50 Covid isolation trains, with a capacity of 8,000 beds — each coach is designed to carry 16 patients — are being readied to be pressed into service. Since Anand Vihar may not be able to accommodate all the coaches required, other places, including stations in the outskirts, are being considered, sources said.

“Delhi government has conveyed its requirement and based on that we are preparing,” said a senior Railway official.
Northern Railway, which serves Delhi, has around 520 such coaches while the entire Indian Railways has over 5,321 of them. As per discussions within Railways, all 500 coaches are to be pressed into service based on the request of the city government. The Kejriwal government had already requisitioned one train of 10 isolation coaches, which has been kept ready in the Shakurbasti washing pit.

As per government guidelines, the isolation coaches can be used for very mild cases that can be clinically assigned to Covid Care centers as per guidelines issued by Union Health ministry. The isolation coaches are made as Covid care level 1 centres.

Railways has decided to attach one AC coach also, meant for medical staff, with the trains made of these non-AC coaches. The coaches have oxygen facilities provided by Railways. However, state governments are supposed to provide medical staff to tend to the patients, while the national transporter is to take care of other logistics.

Uttar Pradesh has so far asked for these coaches to be deployed in 24 locations whereas Telangana has requested for 60 coaches in three locations to supplement their isolation/quarantine infrastructure.

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