NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways has converted a sleeper coach into a prototype isolation unit for covid-19 patients. To start with, nearly 10 coaches will be converted into isolation units by each zonal railway every week.
Railway is looking at an option of ramping this up in case of a need in short notice. The health directorate of railways has also issued instructions to the zones to engage retired doctors at divisional, production units and at headquarters level for different hospitals for one month as per local requirement. It has said first preference may be given to retired railways doctors who are below 65 years.
Engagement of these contract medical practitioners (CMPs) will be over and above the vacancy to contain the spread of Covid–19 pandemic.
While converting a sleeper coach into an isolation cabin, the middle berth has been removed from one side and all the three berths have been removed in front of the patient’s berth.
Since isolation wards need full ventilation, sleeper coaches with open windows are the best option, officials said. The details shared by railways showed that there is a provision of air curtains in the compartment.
To meet the requirement, bathrooms and aisle areas have been modified. Bathrooms have been created by renovating toilets and electrical modifications done for medical instruments. The other modifications include removal of all ladders which are used for climbing up to the middle and upper berths, 230V sockets in each cabin and plastic curtains.
In a tweet, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal shared some of photographs of the prototype unit. “The railways will offer clean, sanitised and hygienic surroundings for the patients to comfortably recover,” he said.
On March 24, the Railway Board had asked all its production units to explore the possibility of manufacturing medical items such as hospital beds, ventilators etc for covid-19 patients.