The Indian Railways has deployed 204 isolation coaches in four states, including 54 at Delhi’s Shakurbasti railway station maintenance depot, officials said, adding that the number in the capital will be scaled up to 500 in the coming days.
Home Minister Amit Shah earlier Sunday had said the Centre would provide 500 such coaches to Delhi to overcome the shortage of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients.
States like Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi requisitioned these coaches two months after the national transporter converted over 5,000 of its non-air conditioned coaches into COVID care centres.
Seventy coaches have been deployed in Uttar Pradesh — 10 each in Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Junction, Varanasi, Bhadohi, Faizabad, Saharanpur, Mirzapur and Jhansi.
Fifty-four have been deployed at Shakurbasti maintenance depot in Delhi.
Sixty coaches have been deployed in Telangana — 20 each in Secunderabad, Kachguda and Adilabad and 20 coaches in Andhra Pradesh”s Vijayawada.
While Uttar Pradesh has asked for 240 such coaches for 24 locations, Telangana has requisitioned 60 for three places and Delhi has asked for 10 such coaches as COVID-19 cases in India surpassed the three lakh-mark.
The first batch of 10 coaches with a total capacity of 160 beds were deployed at Shakurbasti station in Delhi on May 31. Now another 44 coaches have been deployed.
According to an integrated COVID plan developed by the Health Ministry and the NITI Aayog, these coaches can be used in areas where the state has exhausted the 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.
The composition of the rakes will be decided as per the requirement of a state.
With 9,195 fatalities till Sunday, India is the ninth worst-hit nation in terms of COVID-19 deaths while the highest spike of 11,929 cases took the tally to over 3.20 lakh.
According to the Health Ministry data, India recorded 311 new deaths in the 24-hour period till Sunday morning while the recovery rate rose to above 50 per cent with 1,62,378 patients cured so far, leaving 1,49,348 cases active.
The Johns Hopkins University, which has been compiling COVID-19 data from across the world, has put India fourth in terms of total caseload.
This was the third day in a row that more than 10,000 coronavirus cases have been reported in the country.
According to the Railway Ministry, these coaches-turned-isolation wards will also be equipped with mosquito nets, charging points for laptop and phones. The toilets have been modified into bathrooms.
These coaches have been modified at a cost of Rs 2 lakh each. Some of these coaches were ready for deployment by April 11, officials said.