Indian Railways coaches to become hospital wards for COVID-19 quarantine – one of the "best ideas" ever! As the entire country is in complete lockdown mode till 14 April 2020 due to novel Coronavirus pandemic, Piyush Goyal chaired Railway Ministry is transforming empty train coaches into isolation wards for those who need to be quarantined. With all the passenger train services been suspended due to nationwide lockdown, the empty coaches are being utilized to provide isolation facility or treatment to COVID-19 patients. Recently, co-founder of Flipkart, Sachin Bansal said that converting Indian Railways train coaches into hospital wards is "one of the best ideas" ever. With this step, India will have thousands of movable "hospital beds" which can be sent to anywhere they are needed within hours, he has said in a tweet.
Recently, the Railway Board wrote to all the zonal authorities in view of the novel Coronavirus outbreak. The board asked the authorities to be prepared for converting as many as 20,000 coaches of Indian Railways into isolation wards for those who are infected with COVID-19. To treat COVID-19 patients, the national transporter is also in talks with Armed Forces Medical Services, Ayushman Bharat on setting up isolation wards in train coaches.
According to Railway Ministry, initially, as many as 5,000 passenger coaches are likely to be modified to meet the requirement of any possible exigency. As per medical guidelines, these passenger coaches would be equipped with basic facilities that are required for isolation of patients. Depending on the requirement, more coaches can be modified later, the ministry said. These passenger coaches will be provided with mobile and laptop charging points, mosquito nets, space for paramedics, etc. The passenger coaches would be prepared for medical facility, zone wise.
Indian Railways has a total of 125 hospitals and out of that over 70 hospitals are being planned to be kept ready for any contingency. Also, around 6,500 hospital beds are being made ready to meet the possible needs of patients.