Agencies /New Delhi
India said yesterday it was planning to turn some railway coaches into isolation wards for patients with coronavirus, as authorities scramble to prepare the country’s health infrastructure for an expected surge in cases.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the country’s 1.3bn people this week to stay indoors for three weeks in the world’s biggest lockdown, seeking to curb the spread of the illness.
India’s network of trains, the country’s lifeblood, has been idled.
One train coach has been turned into a prototype quarantine facility, state-owned Indian Railways said in a statement yesterday.
Once they get clearance, the plan is for each of India’s railway zones to convert 10 coaches into such wards every week, the company added.
Indian Railways has 16 zones, according to its website.
“Railways will offer clean, sanitised & hygienic surroundings for the patients to comfortably recover,” tweeted Railways Minister Piyush Goyal.
He did not specify how many people could be cared for in each coach.
Also, the National Thermal Power Corp (NTPC), India’s largest power producer, has stepped up vigil against Covid-19 by converting its hospitals into dedicated coronavirus units.
NTPC has turned its 45 hospitals/health units into isolation facilities and has bought equipment for the medical staff to handle such cases.
At least 120 beds have been dedicated for isolation wards in these hospitals.
The government has asked public sector undertakings to identify their healthcare facilities and see if they could be converted into centres to handle the pandemic.
The key medical infrastructure, made ready for use by state governments, includes hospital at Badarpur in Delhi and the medical college hospital of Sundergarh in Odisha.
Korba Hospital was also being examined for takeover by the state government, NTPC said.
The medical personnel have also been trained through video link about the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), it added.
NTPC also conducted mock drill on March 22 at all its hospitals.
Meanwhile, a Gulf-based doctor has offered support for setting up a hospital exclusively for the treatment of Covid-19 patients.
Shamsheer Vayalil has offered a 500-bed hospital in Manesar to combat the dreaded virus.
The hospital has facilities like state-of-the-art critical care and pulmonology department, isolation rooms, ventilators and other emergency services.
The hospital also has formed a dedicated taskforce comprising specialist doctors, nurses and other medical staff to combat the pandemic and to take care of the patients.
“To help support the efforts of the government of India, we would like to offer our Medeor Hospital located in Manesar for the treatment of Covid-19 patients,” Vayalil, chairman and managing director of VPS Healthcare, said in a letter to the Health Ministry.
After getting approval, the hospital will follow the guidelines and protocol as per government hospitals to provide all the necessary care for coronavirus patients.
“In a country like India which has the second largest population in the world, private sector collaboration is extremely important to put a quick cap on the contagious disease from spreading. Seamless integration of the private sector with government efforts will not only combat Covid-19, but will also place India on the global map to fight communicable diseases,” Vayalil said.
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