Some relief for Delhi! 500 Indian Railways train coaches to act as COVID-19 isolation and care centres; details

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Published: June 14, 2020 1:30 PM

The Delhi government has announced that all nursing homes with 10 to 49 beds are to be used as COVID-only facilities. However, specialized centres for eye, IVF, ENT as well as maternity homes have been exempted.

Indian Railways to provide isolation coaches in light of growing COVID-19 cases in the national capital.

Indian Railways to provide 500 coaches for COVID-19 are in Delhi! After the Arvind Kejriwal government requested Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways to provide isolation coaches in light of growing COVID-19 cases in the national capital, around 500 isolation coaches are being prepared by the national transporter. Meanwhile, the Delhi government has announced that all nursing homes with 10 to 49 beds are to be used as COVID-only facilities. However, specialized centres for eye, IVF, ENT as well as maternity homes have been exempted, according to an IE report. The Delhi government has asked the nursing homes to make COVID-19 beds functional within three days, failing which action would be taken against them.

According to an order by the health department, this step has been taken in order to avoid the intermingling of COVID-19 and Non-COVID-19 patients in the city’s small and medium multispeciality nursing homes. Also, this will augment the bed capacity for novel coronavirus patients. According to sources quoted in the report, the Arvind Kejriwal government had notified that the state wants at least 250 to 300 of these Indian Railways’ isolation coaches, to be deployed in Anand Vihar station area, serving mostly the East Delhi region. In order to make room for the deployment of 500 coaches, the national transporter is gearing up to remove all regular train services from that terminal station to other railway stations.

According to railway sources quoted in the report, 500 coaches or around 50 COVID-19 isolation trains, with a capacity of as many as 8,000 beds, are being readied for this purpose. Based on the conversations with the Delhi government, they said that each coach is designed to carry 16 patients. They further said that since Anand Vihar may not be able to accommodate all the train coaches that are required to treat patients with novel coronavirus, other places, including railway stations in the outskirts, are also being considered.

The Northern Railway zone of Indian Railways, which serves Delhi, has nearly 520 such isolation coaches while the entire national transporter has over 5,321 such coaches. On the request of the city government, all 500 coaches are to be pressed into service as per discussions within Indian Railways. The Delhi government had already requisitioned one train comprising of as many as 10 isolation coaches, which has been kept ready for COVID-19 cases in the Shakurbasti washing pit. As per the guidelines issued by the Union Health Ministry, the isolation coaches can be utilized for very mild novel coronavirus cases that can be clinically assigned to Covid Care centers. The isolation coaches of Indian Railways have been turned into Covid care level 1 centres.

With the trains made of these non-AC coaches, the national transporter has decided to attach one air-conditioned coach meant for medical staff. The isolation coaches have been equipped with oxygen facilities provided by Indian Railways. However, the medical staff to tend to the patients are supposed to provided by the state governments while Indian Railways is to take care of other logistics. So far, the state of Uttar Pradesh has asked the national transporter to deploy these coaches in as many as 24 locations. Also, Telangana has requested Indian Railways for a total of 60 coaches in three locations.

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