New Delhi: The Indian Railways has swung into action to modify coaches into quarantine / isolation coaches to house Covid-19 patients. As part of the plan, work on modification of the first lot of 5,000 coaches has started. These 5,000 coaches will have the capacity to accommodate up to 8,000 beds.
A Ministry of Railway official said design of these coaches has been made, adding that five Zonal Railways have prepared their prototypes and conversion process has started. This is to be noted that the Indian Railways has decided to convert a total of 20,000 coaches, which can accommodate up to 3.2 lakh beds for isolation / quarantine needs. One coach is likely to have 16 beds for isolation. Besides, it has also earmarked 5,000 isolation beds in the Railway hospitals and 11,000 quarantine beds across Railways establishments for Covid-19 patients.
The official said only non-AC sleeper coaches are being planned to be utilized for conversion into quarantine / isolation coaches. One Indian style toilet is being converted into a bathing room, which will be equipped with bucket, mug and soap dispenser. Taps with lift type handle would be provided in the wash basins. A similar tap will be provided at a proper height so that bucket can be filled.
As per the plan, the first cabin near the bathing room will be provided with two hospital / plastic curtains transversely in the aisle so that the entry and exit to the entire berth cabins can be screened off. The cabin will be used as store / paramedics area. Two oxygen cylinders will also be provided by the Railways’ Medical department for which suitable clamping arrangement on the side berth side of this cabin will be provided.
Both middle berths will be removed in each cabin. Extra bottle holders will be provided in each cabin for holding medical equipment, two for each berth. Extra three peg coat hooks, two per cabin will also be provided. Mosquito net will be provided on windows to avoid mosquito entry inside and there will be proper ventilation too. Each cabin will be provided with three dustbins with foot operated lids of red, blue and yellow colour suitably lined with garbage bags. For insulation of the coaches, bamboo/khus mats may be pasted on roof and each side of coach above and below windows to shield effect of heat inside the coach. All charging points for laptop and mobile will remain functional. Besides 11,000 beds for quarantine purposes, around 50,00 beds have been earmarked for treatment of Covid-19 patients in 17 dedicated hospitals and 33 hospital blocks which are being made ready for this purpose. A meeting of Railways Ministry officials was held recently with Armed Forces Medical Services, Medical Department of various Zonal Railways, and Ayushman Bharat, Ministry of Health. Five Zonal Railways have already prepared prototypes for the quarantine/ isolation coaches. Director General, Railway Health Services will soon issue detailed Standard Operating Procedure for operation and use of these quarantine/isolation coaches.