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Railways' COVID isolation coaches are back, this time in Maharashtra


NEW DELHI: The railways' COVID care coaches have been requisitioned by the administration of Nandurbar, one of the smallest districts of Maharashtra, to augment its efforts in dealing with the pandemic as the region has reported 400 cases daily since the last month.

The district administration had imposed a lockdown from March 31 till April 15.

Each COVID care rake has 20 coaches consisting of modified sleeper and general coaches and each of these coaches can accommodate 16 patients.

The Nandurbar administration has asked for more than 90 such coaches, out of which 21 have already been provided, an official said on Monday.

"Out of 128 isolation coaches in Mumbai division, 21 coaches have been given to the Maharashtra government for use in Nandurbar district. Nandurbar collector had asked Western Railway to provide such coaches," Sumit Thakur, chief PRO, Western Railway, told PTI.

He said these coaches were provided from Surat.

A Memorandum of Understating was signed between the District Magistrate of Nandurbar and the Divisional Railway Manager of Western Railway in this regard.

According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare guidelines, the responsibilities 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 of 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 the COVID care centres, the guidelines said.

These modified coaches 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 bathroom stools.

The coaches also have mosquito nets, bio-toilets, power sockets and oxygen cylinders.

Space has been created in these coaches to hold IV fluid bottles, extra bottle holders and clamps have been provided to hang them.

The railways, which converted more than 5,500 non-air conditioned coaches into COVID care centres had deployed 813 of them with 12,472 beds in July last year -- Delhi (503), Uttar Pradesh (270) and Bihar (40).

However, most of these coaches were not used and complaints were raised about the heat and mosquitoes inside these centres.

But the railways garnered praise for its efforts to augment the government's fight against the pandemic.

India hit a new coronavirus infection record with 1,68,912 new cases, the highest single-day rise so far, taking the total tally of cases to 1,35,27,717, according to the health ministry data updated on Monday.

The national COVID-19 recovery rate has fallen below 90 per cent.

The active cases have surpassed the 12 lakh-mark, while the death toll increased to 1,70,179 with 904 daily new fatalities, the highest since October 18, 2020, the data updated at 8 am showed.