New Delhi, Oct 15 (PTI) A total of 813 COVID Care coaches developed by the Indian Railways are currently in use in three states and around 900 patients have been treated in them so far, according to data from the national transporter.
As on October 14, there are 503 such coaches stationed in Delhi, 270 in Uttar Pradesh and 40 in Bihar. The three states together have been provided more than 12,000 additional beds through these coaches, official data shows.
A total of 5,231 COVID Care coaches have been made available by the Railways for use by state governments for very mild or mild novel coronavirus cases, but they did not find many takers except these three states.
"The COVID Care coaches were developed to help the state governments because of lack of infrastructure. Our coaches have been kept in standby mode and we will deploy them wherever needed. We really don't know the real coronavirus situation as of now," Chairman Railway Board, VK Yadav said Thursday.
"Whenever we think that the COVID coaches need to be used for special trains, we will induct these coaches back in a phased manner keeping some coaches as standby. They can be modified within a day or two," he said.
Currently, the Railways is operating 682 special trains and will push into service 416 festival special trains from October 30 for around 40 days.
According to official data, a total of 933 patients have been admitted to these COVID Care coaches so far among whom 906 have been discharged.
According to an integrated COVID plan developed by the Health Ministry and the NITI Aayog, these non-ac coaches can be used in areas where the state has exhausted conventional healthcare facilities and needs to augment capacities for isolation of suspected and confirmed cases.
The coaches have necessary medical equipment such as oxygen cylinders, blankets, medical supplies, sterilized berths for the safety and convenience of the individuals placed in isolation.
The coaches can be used for very mild cases that can be clinically assigned to the coronavirus care centres, according to the guidelines issued by the Health Ministry.
These coaches-turned-isolation wards are equipped with mosquito nets, charging points for laptops and phones. The toilets have been modified into bathrooms.
These coaches have been modified at a cost of Rs 2 lakh each and reconverting them into passenger coaches will cost the Railways less than half that amount, officials said.
Officials said although these coaches augment the efforts of the Centre to fight the pandemic, heat and dust during the summer season have been major deterrents in their use to house patients.