Railways to convert train coaches into isolation wards for COVID-19 patients

Railways has suspended operation of its passenger trains till April 14

A prototype of an isolation ward, ready with medical facilities, arranged in a train in Kamakhya in Assam | Twitter/ Piyush Goyal A prototype of an isolation ward, ready with medical facilities, arranged in a train in Kamakhya in Assam | Twitter/ Piyush Goyal

Stepping up its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, the Indian Railways has converted train coaches into isolation wards.

"Preparing to Combat Coronavirus: In a novel initiative, Railways has converted train coaches into isolation wards for COVID-19 patients. Now, Railways will offer clean, sanitised & hygienic surroundings for the patients to comfortably recover," Railway Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted.

The railways has suspended operation of its passenger trains till April 14 and only freight trains are running round the clock to ensure the supply of essential commodities like food grain, milk, fruits and vegetables, sugar, edible oil and petroleum products.

The railways has nearly 60,000 passenger coaches that can be converted into quarantine facility to accommodate nearly one lakh patients.

According to Deepak Kumar, chief public relation officer, northern railway, after clearance, 10 railway coaches per week will be converted into isolation wards for COVID-19 patients by each zonal railway and the same shall be placed all across India to fight the deadly virus.

A railway official maintained that the quarantine facilities will be used for those who show symptoms of the infection or have travel history. 

In order to construct an isolation cabin prototype for the patients, the middle berth has been removed from one side of the coach while all three berths have been removed in front of the patient's berth.

All ladders for climbing up to the upper berths have also been removed and the bathrooms, aisle areas and other areas have also been modified to prepare the isolation coach.

Deepak Kumar, while explaining key features of the isolation coach, said two toilets in each coach have been converted into bathroom by plugging the toilet pan, while proper flooring has been done and hand shower facilities arranged.

He added that plugging the lower portion of compartment by plywood, provision of partition of compreg board from aisle side for isolation of compartment, and provision of 220 V-elect point in each compartment for medical instruments along with air curtain in each compartment have been designed.

"There are 10 isolation room in each coach. Coaches are being sanitized properly before and after the execution of work. The railways are ready to make such coaches after receiving clearance, if need arises in future," Kumar further said.

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