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CORONAVIRUS EXPRESS

India’s idle trains may soon become isolation wards for Covid-19 patients

Niharika Sharma
By Niharika Sharma

Aviation and social media reporter

Indian Railways has offered to join the fight against coronavirus.

On March 28, railway minister Piyush Goyal said his team could convert coaches of some trains into isolation wards. Following a nation-wide lockdown that began on March 25, Indian Railways has suspended train services across the country.

“Railways will offer clean, sanitised, and hygienic surroundings for the patients to comfortably recover,” Goyal said.

His team has readied one isolation cabin prototype and if that gets approved, the ministry plans to convert 10 coaches into such wards every week.

The move comes at a time when India is recording a constant spike in Covid-19 cases. As of today (March 30), there are over 940 active coronavirus cases in India.

Covid-19 patients should be housed in single rooms. But in case of space crunch, beds can be put with a spatial separation of at least one meter (three feet), as per the government’s guidelines on setting up isolation wards in the country (pdf).

Here are some images of Indian railways employees converting train coaches into quarantine facilities:

Twitter account of vice president of India
Medical equipment in a train coach that has been turned into an isolation ward.

The Railways plans to remove all upper and middle berths from coaches to ensure comfort as well as sufficient distancing between patients.

AP Photo/Anupam Nath
An Indian Railways employee works to convert a train coach into an isolation ward.
AP Photo/Anupam Nath
An employee of Indian Railways inspects the converting of a train coach into an isolation ward.

The aisle and the bathroom areas have also been modified, including removing the ladders used for climbing on the upper berths.

AP Photo/Anupam Nath
An Indian Railways employee works to convert a train coach into an isolation ward.
AP Photo/Anupam Nath
Railway employees fixing a mosquito net in the converted quarantine wards.
AP Photo/Anupam Nath
A Railway employee cleaning a coach that has been turned into a self-isolation ward.

The Railways’ workshops responsible for maintaining its fleet have also come forward to fulfil the requirement of beds and other kinds of furniture for isolation wards.

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