New Delhi: With each passing day, cases of coronavirus are increasing in the country, as of June 22, the country had reported more than 4 lakh cases according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). In order to augment the capability against COVID-19, Indian Railways has converted 5,231 non-air-conditioned coaches into isolation coaches to fight the pandemic in the country.
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The Ministry of Railway, in its statement, said that these facilities are part of the integrated COVID-19 plan developed by MoHFW and NITI Ayog, and are normally to be used when state facilities are overwhelmed.
Highlighting more about the initiative, the official statement from the Ministry of Railways said,
It was also stipulated that the facility should be well ventilated with adequate scope for natural lighting, and Air Conditioning if provided, should be non-ducted which rules out AC Coaches.
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The Ministry said that it was mutually agreed by NITI Ayog and MoHFW that AC coaches will not be used for COVID-care facilities as the higher ambient temperature was expected to assist in fighting the virus and cross circulation of air through open windows will benefit patients.
As directed and desired by the Empowered Group II, these isolation coaches, serving as COVID-19 Care Centers, shall offer care only for cases that have been clinically assigned as mild or very mild cases or are coronavirus suspect cases, the statement said.
As per the guidelines, these isolation train coaches are necessarily mapped to one or more Dedicated COVID-19 Health Centres and at least one Dedicated COVID Hospital for referral purpose where the patients can be shifted to in case their condition starts to deteriorate.
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Along with these, as per the protocols, one emergency resuscitation facility will be set up on the platform adjacent to the platform where the train is parked, by the associated health unit. It is expected that these coaches could be required for use by mid-July, when the virus is expected to peak.
The Ministry of Railways said that several steps were being taken to prevent heat build-up inside the coaches during the summer. Cover sheets are being placed over the isolation coaches stationed at platforms and bubble wrap films are being applied to the coaches.
Currently, the arrangements are being made to paint the roof with heat-reflecting paint or alternatively provide a bamboo chic, etc which will lower the temperature. The statement from railway ministry added,
Water mist systems are also being tried out. In the current season of dry air, it is expected that the resulting temperature reduction would enhance the comfort of expected patients.