30 March 2020
New Delhi: The Indian Railways on Monday said it will convert 5,000 rail coaches into isolation wards to combat the spread of coronavirus.
A senior railway ministry official said that in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the national transporter is making all-out efforts to supplement the health care efforts of the Centre.
He said the spectrum of steps include modification of passenger coaches as isolation coaches, equipping the existing Railway Hospitals to meet the Covid-19 needs, earmarking of hospital beds to meet the contingencies, recruitment of additional doctors and paramedics etc.
"All these facilities will be made available as mandated by the central government to those in need. The preparations are being done across all the zones under the supervision of General Managers and medical professionals of Indian Railways," he said.
"Indian Railways is planning to initially modify 5,000 passenger coaches to meet the requirement of any possible exigency of keeping some Covid-19 patients in isolation as and when required by the government," the official said.
The official pointed out that these coaches would be equipped with basic facilities needed for isolation as per medical guidelines.
"In case need be, more coaches can be modified," he said, adding that coaches are also going to be equipped with mosquito nets, charging points for mobiles and laptops, space for paramedics etc.
"These coaches would be prepared zone-wise," he said.
Earlier in the day, Northern Railway said that it has converted 16 LHB coaches into isolation wards and two more IVF coaches to be converted as isolation wards by Tuesday.
The ministry in a statement later said that railways has 125 hospitals in India and of that more than 70 are being planned to be kept ready to be for any contingency as and when required.
"Efforts are being made to designate dedicated Covid-19 wards or floors in these hospitals.
"Approximately 6,500 hospital beds are being made ready to meet the possible needs of patients," the ministry said.
It further said that Indian Railways has already given a go ahead to zonal heads to explore the possibility of hiring doctors and paramedics from the market and also to re-employ retired railway doctors as a temporary measure to meet the increased requirement of medical supervision and assist the authorities in charge of COVID-19 control management in the region.
These efforts of Indian Railways have been mounted not only to supplement the efforts of the government of India but also to contribute to the national efforts to fight Covid-19.