- Train coaches will be converted into COVID-19 care center
- COVID-19 train coaches will be parked at 215 railway stations in 23 states
- Biomedical waste segregation and management must in COVID-19 care centre
New Delhi: With the number of Novel Coronavirus cases in India crossing the 50,000 mark, the center has decided to convert train coaches into COVID-19 care centre for suspected and confirmed (very mild and mild) cases of Coronavirus. The latest initiative is a part of the government’s preparation for a sudden increase in the number of the COVID-19 positives in the country. Confirming the same, on Thursday (May 7), the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare uploaded a ‘guidance document on appropriate management of suspect/confirmed cases of COVID-19: Railway coaches – COVID-19 care centre’. The document lists out the guiding principles and standard operating procedures for the use of coaches and administering patients.
Considering possible increase of #COVID19 cases, Govt. decides to use Railway Coaches as #COVIDCareCentres@MoHFW_INDIA issues guidance for using Railway coaches to treat #COVID19 i) suspects & ii) mild/very mild patients
— PIB in Maharashtra ???????? (@PIBMumbai) May 6, 2020
Sharing the pictures of the preparations on SOCIAL MEDIA, Piyush Goyal, Minister for Railways and Commerce and Industry wrote, “Geared up to tackle COVID-19: In line with PM Narendra Modi ji’s determination to provide healthcare in every corner of the nation. Special Isolation Coaches prepared by Railways will be placed at 215 railway stations across 23 states & UTs for use as COVID-19 Care Centres.”
Geared up to Tackle COVID-19 ⛑️: In line with PM @NarendraModi ji's determination to provide healthcare in every corner of the nation, Special Isolation Coaches prepared by Railways will be placed at 215 Railway Stations across 23 states & UTs for use as COVID-19 Care Centres ????️ pic.twitter.com/N5L2zCd43X
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) May 7, 2020
Makeshift COVID-19 care centre or special COVID-19 train coaches will be parked at 215 railway stations across 23 states. In 85 stations, the Ministry of Railways will provide healthcare staff; in 130 stations, states need to provide staff and essential medicines.
According to the ministry guidelines, the respective state/UT government may place a request for parking the coaches at the other 130 stations only if they agree to provide staff and essential medicines at such railway stations.
The Health Ministry has also asked to provide separate coaches for suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 so as to avoid cross infection. Also, it is suggested to assign an individual cabin to each patient. If the situation warrants, a maximum of two individuals can be put in a cabin, the ministry said.
The state government shall map at least one COVID dedicated hospital for each train so that patients can be shifted to the hospital in case of an emergency. The state/UT government shall make suitable ambulance arrangements for shifting the patient; preferably one basic life support ambulance with oxygen and ambu bag should be stationed at the railway station where the train is placed, reads the standard operating procedure.
NDTV spoke to Dr P. N. Maheshwari, Nodal officer for the Guwahati railway station to understand the kind of preparation going on and how are trains being converted into COVID-19 care centre. Guwahati railway station is one of the 85 stations where the central government will provide healthcare staff. Sharing the details, Dr Maheshwari said,
Coaches with a capacity of 180 beds are ready and oxygen cylinders are also there but apart from this, we don’t have anything else. We require huge manpower including doctor, nurses, sanitation staff; linen; laundry. We did put out an advertisement calling for recruitment of people for different jobs but as of now, we haven’t received any response.
According to Dr Maheshwari these coaches will be put into use only when the existing healthcare infrastructure OF COVID-19 hospitals have been exhausted. As of now, there is no decision on when the state government will take over these makeshift COVID-19 care centres.
Explaining the challenges associated in using train coaches, Dr Maheshwari said,
There are some inherent problems in these coaches. For instance, in Mumbai, the temperature is soaring high and these coaches are not air conditioned. There is only a fan; because of heat neither patients will be able to stay here nor will healthcare staff be able to work well. This is the reason the state government is trying to build hospitals and takeover municipal corporation halls.
For temperature management, the ministry in its SOP has stated, “should the need arise for coach temperature management, arrangement for roof top insulation of the coach or any other suitable arrangement shall be made through local arrangements by Railways.”
The staff working in these coaches will have to ensure biomedical waste segregation at source and the respective state/district will have to do waste disposal arrangements following the mechanism being followed for hospitals in the respective state/district.
Apart from this, when the train is handed back to Railways, the staff deployed for the train shall ensure all biomedical waste bins are cleaned and emptied; the train cleaned and disinfected, and then handed over to authorised staff after tallying the inventory. The Railway staff shall again disinfect the train as per protocol issued by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare from time to time and lock it till further orders.