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In a bid to address the bed crunch in hospitals amid rising COVID-19 cases, Indian Railways is making an all out effort to supplement the health care efforts. "Total 5601 train coaches were converted as Covid Care Centers by Indian Railway. Presently, total 3816 Coaches are available for the use as Covid Care Coaches. The Coaches can be used for very mild cases that can be clinically assigned to the Covid Care centers as per guidelines issued by MoHFW. These covid care coaches is being deployed as per demand by State Government," according to a statement by the Railway Ministry.

As on today, 21 Covid Care Coaches have been deployed at Nandurbar District in Maharashtra under Western Railway. Total 47 patient have been admitted in these Covid Care Coaches.

Madhya Pradesh Government has requested Indian Railways to deploy 20 Covid Care Coaches at Bhopal and 20 Covid Care Coaches at Habibganj Railway Stations in West Central Railway. These Covid Care Coaches shall be operational & handed over to State Government from 25th April 2021.

In Northern Railway, 50 Covid Care Coaches at Shakur Basti, 25 Covid Care Coaches at Anand Vihar, 10 at Varanasi, 10 at Bhadohi and 10 Covid Care Coaches at Faizabad have been deployed by Indian Railways. Total 3 patient have been admitted in Covid Care Coaches placed at Shakur Basti.

The Northern Railways has deployed 50 isolation coaches, each having two oxygen cylinders, at Delhi's Shakur Basti railway station and 25 such facilities will be placed at Anand Vihar by Monday, General Manager Ashutosh Gangal said on Sunday.

The move came after the Delhi government requested the national transporter to arrange up to 5,000 beds in view of the rising coronavirus cases in the national capital. These coaches modified for coronavirus patients have been divided into eight bays or 'cabins' with each having 16 beds. Every coach has three toilets -- one western and two Indian style -- and a bathroom with hand showers, buckets, mugs and seating arrangement.

Mosquito nets, bio-toilets, power sockets and oxygen cylinders are available at the coaches. Also, space has been created to hold IV-fluid bottles. Extra bottle holders and clamps have been provided to hang them.

"We have 463 such coaches across our network. Fifty beds have been placed at Shakur Basti and 25 will be placed at Anand Vihar by Monday. We have purchased oxygen cylinders and two such cylinders will be placed in each coach. "If more is needed, the state government has to arrange it. However, since these coaches are for mild COVID-19 cases, we do not expect huge demand for oxygen," Gangal said.

With the placement of these coaches, the Delhi region will have an additional 1,200 beds for coronavirus patients with mild symptoms.

The Northern Railway general manager also said that the coaches in both these areas will be placed under a cover or a temporary cover will be provided to bring down the temperature inside.

Asked if the national transporter will charge the states for the isolation coaches, Gangal said there is no provision of levying such charge in the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday said around 25,500 new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Delhi and the positivity rate has increased to nearly 30 per cent in a 24-hour period.

Last year, the railways had deployed 813 coaches with 12,472 beds in July with Delhi having 503 such beds, Uttar Pradesh 270 and Bihar 40. However, most of these coaches were not used and complaints about the heat and mosquitoes inside them were raised.

According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare guidelines, the responsibility of maintaining the coaches will be shared by the railways and the state government.

The national transporter will be responsible for the basic infrastructure and maintenance of the premises like cleaning and sanitisation of platforms, providing housekeeping materials like linen and blankets, management of bio-toilets, power and electric supply arrangements, watering, communication facilities and signage and marking of different areas. It will also provide catering and oxygen cylinders in the coaches. The Railway Protection Force (RPF) will provide security at station premises and the platform area where the coaches have been placed. The district administration will be responsible for refilling oxygen cylinders, waste disposal, catering, doctors and paramedical staff, ambulance and overall supervision. These railway coaches can be used for very mild cases that can be clinically assigned to COVID care centres, the guidelines state.

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