As part of efforts to scale up the medical infrastructure across the country in view of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the railways is setting up isolation and quarantine facilities with 80,000 beds for positive and suspected cases of the disease, the government said on Wednesday.
The announcement came amid fears that the number of Covid-19 cases could surge and overwhelm India’s fragile health system.
“The railways is in the process of modifying at least 20,000 of its train coaches to be converted into well-equipped isolation facilities. We have been told the work has already started on converting 5,000 coaches in the first batch. By doing so, India will get at least 80,000 additional isolation beds,” said Lav Aggarwal, joint secretary, Union health ministry.
Railways minister Piyush Goyal also said in a statement that all the zones will meet the challenge of making these coaches fully ready and equipped at the earliest. “…work on the conversion of first lot of 5,000 coaches has already started in a phased manner.”
Also, under the Lifeline Udan initiative of the ministry of civil aviation, 74 flights have been operated to date for transporting medical cargo across the country. A total of 37.63 tonnes of cargo has been transported, of which more than 22 tonnes was transported on March 31.
“The flights are helping in transporting medical and essential supplies. The supplies include personal protection equipment, masks etc,” said Agarwal.