Inside India’s COVID-19 ‘Isolation’ wards on rails

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Indian Railways on Saturday announced that one of its prototypes has been converted into an isolation ward on a trial basis as number of COVID-19 cases rise in the country.

“On a trial basis, for now, we have converted only one prototype into an isolation ward. If this goes well then 10 coaches per week will be converted into an isolation ward in every Railways zone,” said an Indian Railways official.

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10 railway coaches per week will be converted into isolation wards, news agency ANI reported.

The structure of the train has been revamped in a way that the middle berth has been removed from one side of the coach and all three berths in the front have also been removed in the patient cabin.

While all ladders for climbing up the berths have also been removed. The bathrooms, the aisle areas and a few other areas have also been changed to prepare the isolation ward.

“To make the patient cabin, the middle berth has been removed from one side, all three berths in front of the patient berth have been removed, all ladders for climbing up the berths have been removed. The bathrooms, aisle areas and other areas have also been modified to prepare the Isolation Coach,” said the official.

In the worst-case scenario (later stages of pandemic), when capacities of the health facilities including such ‘train-hospitals’ may get overwhelmed, 2 patients per compartment (16 per coach) can be accommodated, said the Railways official.

A total of 11,519 AC coaches and 34,017 non-AC coaches, excluding chair-cars, are part of the initiative.

However, experts say that the non-AC coaches are better suited to treat cases of coronavirus infections.

This move comes after Indian Railways’ suspended the running of all passenger trains till March 31 except trains carrying goods amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The total number of positive cases of Coronavirus in India rose to 873 on Saturday, including 775 active cases and 78 recovered cases, one migrated and 19 dead, according to the latest figures released by the Health Ministry.

(With Agency Inputs)

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