The Indian Railways has converted as many as 2,500 coaches into isolation wards for Covid-19 patients, the ministry announced on Monday. The coaches have a combined capacity of at least 40,000 beds, it added.
“In times of lockdown, when manpower resources are limited and have to be rationalised and rotated, different zones of Railways have almost done an impossible task of so many conversions in such a small span of time,” a statement by the ministry said.
The ministry said that an average of 375 coaches are being converted into isolation wards in a day. “The work is being carried out at 133 locations in the country,” it added.
Each coach can house 10 patients in separate bays of the non-AC coaches that have undergone a number of modifications.
These coaches, the ministry said, are equipped as per medical advisories issued. Efforts are underway to avoid inconvenience to patients and best medical supervision as per the needs and norms.
The Indian Express had on March 23 reported that this plan by the government was afoot as part of building capability to deal with more cases in the coming days. More than 100 accident relief medical vans lying with divisions and equipped with hospital facilities across India and even the Lifeline Express may be pressed into service, as per talks, sources said.
Two of the four toilets have been converted into bathrooms. The middle berth on one side in each cabin has been removed while the lower berth there will act as the patient bed.
Each cabin has been separated with proper plywood covering and every patient area has medical-grade plastic curtains to give the coach the look of a proper isolation ward. There are cabins for a doctor as well as other medical staffs. More electrical sockets for medical instruments, more bottle holders to act as holders of intravenous drip stands etc., have been provided. It also has provisions for connecting to an external electric supply.
“We have converted a non-AC coach with all necessary modifications. These can travel to remote locations of India if needed and be in service in India’s fight against Coronavirus,” Arun Arora, Principal Chief Mechanical Engineer, Northern Railway had earlier told The Indian Express. All passenger train services have been suspended since March 22.
Here are the highlights of the prototype:
1. Converting two toilets into bathroom by plugging the toilet pan and proper flooring
2. Provision of a hand shower, one bucket & mug in each bathroom.
3. Removal of patient side middle berth.
4. Plugging the lower portion of the compartment by plywood.
5. Provision of partition of compreg board from aisle side for isolation of compartment.
6. Provision of Four bottle holders in each compartment.
7. Provision of 220 v electric point in each compartment for medical instruments.
8. Provision of air curtain in each compartment.
9. There are 10 isolation wards in each coach.
10. There is a provision of 415 volt supply externally also.
11. Coaches are being sanitized properly before and after the execution of work.
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