NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways is contemplating to convert its coaches and cabins in isolation wards in view of the growing number of COVID-19 patients, sources in the ministry said.
The Railways runs 13,523 trains daily, and has now suspended all passenger services till April 14 in view of the country-wide lockdown.
According to sources, the proposal to offer the empty coaches and cabins to be used as isolation wards was discussed in a meeting of Railway Minister Piyush Goyal with Chairman Railway Board V.K Yadav, General Managers of all zones and Divisional Railway Managers over video conferencing on Wednesday.
The idea was discussed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the cabinet meet on Wednesday nudged all the ministers to think out of the box to deal with the coronavirus crisis.
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Yadav said railway coaches and cabins can be converted into makeshift hospital on wheels equipped with consultation rooms, medical store, ICU and pantry.
These coaches can be sent to those parts of the country which has seen rapid rise of the coronavirus cases.
As per the WHO estimates, India has only 0.7 beds per 1,000 people. While it has targeted to increase this to two beds, WHO mandates for at least 3 beds per 1,000 people in the country.