CHENNAI: Southern Railway has developed a prototype of isolation wards for patients affected with COVID-19 by modifying train coaches.
Non-AC sleeper coaches which are 15 to 20 years old have been turned into isolation wards with attached toilet facilities. These coaches will be deployed at railway stations depending on the requirements, said railway sources.
“Each compartment comprising six berths of a coach has been converted into a ward. One of the lower berths in the compartment will be used as bed, while the upper berth can be used for stocking luggage. The remaining four berths in the compartments have been removed to create space for medical equipment or a table,” said a senior official from Southern Railway.
Train bogies being converted into hospital wards in Chennai's Perambur carriage workshop as railways decided to convert the bogies to accommodate the patients in case of emergency requirement.— The New Indian Express (@NewIndianXpress) March 30, 2020
Express photos by P Jawahar.@xpresstn #Covid_19 LIVE: https://t.co/CNgf1CK666 pic.twitter.com/tZ2dCNmBaq
Each coach can accommodate about nine patients and a train comprising 23 coaches can be used as a 200-bed hospital.
As part of the efforts to support the health sector during Covid-19 outbreak, the railways had directed its workshops and production units to develop a prototype model of isolation wards and hands-free flushing in toilets.
The Perambur Loco Works has developed a prototype model of an isolation ward and sent it to the railway board for approval.
“The total number of isolation wards to be built will be finalized by the railway board in the next few days. Accordingly, the location of the trains to be positioned will also be finalised," added railway sources.
However, railway doctors clarified that these coaches may be suitable only to quarantine patients in states where the coronavirus outbreak is high and which face a shortage of hospital beds.
"The isolation ward may not be suitable for treating patients with severe illness,” explained a railway medical officer.