The Railway Board addressed a letter to the general managers of all the railway zones stating that in the initial phase, around 5,000 coaches will be converted into isolation wards and the zones have been asked to make specific preparations for the same.
Indian Railways takes big steps to fight COVID-19! Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways to convert thousands of coaches into COVID-19 quarantine facilities! The Railway Board, chaired by VK Yadav, has directed all the railway zones to be prepared to convert as many as 20,000 train coaches into isolation wards for placing COVID-19 patients in quarantine. The Railway Board addressed a letter to the general managers of all the railway zones stating that in the initial phase, around 5,000 coaches will be converted into isolation wards and the zones have been asked to make specific preparations for the same. The Railway Board has also held consultations with the Armed Forces Medical Services, medical service departments of all the railway zones as well as Ayushman Bharat before taking this decision, according to a PTI report.
The report added that five railway zones have already prepared the prototypes for converting train coaches into isolation wards. The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) zone had prepared the prototype of a train coach converting into an isolation ward at its coaching depot in Kamakhya. The train coach involved all the necessary medical equipment such as oxygen cylinders, blankets, medical supplies, sterilized berths for the safety and convenience of the individuals placed in isolation. According to the Railway Ministry, these coaches-turned-isolation wards will be equipped with mosquito nets, charging points for laptop and phones, space for paramedics etc. Around 6500 hospital beds, owned by the railway authorities, will be made available for COVID-19 patients.
The Northern Railways zone has also developed the prototype for the isolation ward which included a patient’s cabin, nurse’s cabin and modifications in the aisle area. The washrooms, basins, and aisle in these train coaches will be modified in order to make adequate arrangements for the isolation wards and make space for accommodating the medical equipment.
On March 30, 2020, the Northern Railways zone shared on Twitter that 16 LHB train coaches have already been converted into isolation wards. It added that by March 31, two ICF coaches and 20 more LHB coaches will also be converted. The workshops in several railway zones have also been involved in the preparation of hospital beds, saline stands, stretchers, side stools for quarantine facilities. The South Central railway zone workshop has manufactured face masks, sanitisers, gloves, coveralls for catering to the demands of these essential supplies on the network.