New Delhi, Apr 18 (PTI) The isolation coaches deployed by the Railways in Maharashtra's Nandurbar have been covered with layered gunnies and water drip system to lower their temperature, making it suitable for the use of COVID-19 patients, the national transporter said Sunday.
The isolation coaches, which were deployed last year in only some states as COVID care centres, are now being put to use again in this district of Maharashtra after they remained idle for months primarily due to the high temperature inside them.
'The isolation coaches at Nandurbar have been covered with layered gunnies and water drip system for lowering temperature. It has been observed that due to this, temperature can be lowered by up to eight to 10 degrees, which made district officials agree to use the coaches.
'Rake was placed on April 11 and a total of 21 coaches have been stationed on platform number three of Nandurbar railway station. Out of this, eight coaches have been made ready for patients,' an official said.
The Nandurbar district administration had requisitioned 94 coaches and so far six COVID patients have been admitted in them, the official said.
The official said so far no other state had demanded the coaches.
At present, 4,002 converted coaches are available with the railways in its 16 zones and can be made available to state governments on request, the national transporter said.
Each COVID care rake has 20 coaches comprising of modified sleeper and general coaches and each of these coaches can accommodate 16 patients, it said.
According to the guidelines of the Union Health Ministry, the responsibility of maintaining the coaches will be shared by the railways and the state government.
The national transporter will be responsible for the basic infrastructure and maintenance of the premises like cleaning and sanitisation of platforms, providing housekeeping materials like linen and blankets, management of bio-toilets, power and electric supply arrangements, watering, communication facilities and signage and marking of different areas.
It will also provide catering and oxygen cylinders in the coaches.
The Railway Protection Force (RPF) will provide security at station premises and the platform area where the coaches have been placed, it said.
The district administration will be responsible for refilling of oxygen cylinders, waste disposal, catering, doctors and paramedical staff, ambulance and overall supervision, it added.
These railway coaches can be used for very mild cases that can be clinically assigned to the COVID care centres, the guidelines said.
These modified coaches for coronavirus patients have been divided into eight bays or 'cabins' with each having 16 beds.
Every coach has three toilets -- one western and two Indian style -- and a bathroom with hand showers, buckets, mugs and bathroom stools.
The coaches also have mosquito nets, bio-toilets, power sockets and oxygen cylinders. Space has been created in these coaches to hold IV fluid bottles, extra bottle holders and clamps have been provided to hang them.
The railways had deployed 813 of them with 12,472 beds in July last year -- Delhi (503), Uttar Pradesh (270) and Bihar (40).
However, most of these coaches were not used and complaints were raised about the heat and mosquitoes inside them.
However, the railways had garnered praise for its efforts to augment the government's fight against the pandemic.
A record single-day rise of 2,61,500 coronavirus infections has taken India's total tally of COVID-19 cases to 1,47,88,109, while active cases have surpassed the 18-lakh mark, according to Union Health Ministry data updated on Sunday.
The death toll increased to 1,77,150 with a record 1,501 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed. PTI ASG ANB TDS TDS TDS