The Government of India has selected 215 railway stations to deploy the isolation coaches of the Indian Railways as ‘COVID Care Centres’.

In March, India announced plans to use train coaches as coronavirus (Covid-19) isolation wards in response to the growing number of cases in the country.

The isolation centres will be used for patients who are suspected or confirmed to have Covid-19 and are said to be mild or very mild cases.

The stations are spread over 23 states and union territories in the country.

A document was issued by the Ministry of Family and Health Welfare (MOHFW) which outlined the guidelines.

The document said: “Considering the possibility of an increase in cases of Covid-19, a view is taken to utilise railway coaches for COVID Care Centre.”

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The document stated that the aim of the care centres is ‘to observe the patients as mentioned in scope for their symptoms and clinical condition’ and ‘in case of change of the symptoms/ clinical conditions, suitable reference to the designated centre/ hospital for further management’.

If any patient shows deterioration of the symptoms, they will be transferred to the hospital or the designated centre or hospital for further treatment.

Additionally, separate coaches will be used for suspected and confirmed cases to prevent cross-infection.

Maharashtra has 21 stations with the care centres while Uttar Pradesh has 27 and West Bengal has 18.

The list includes major hotspots and covers the cities and rural locations. The trains in the railway stations will be allocated to the nearest hospital treating Covid-19 patients.

Indian Railways will offer food, linen and oxygen facilities. The operator has currently prepared 5,150 coaches and plans to transform some into ‘hospitals on wheels’.

Last week, Indian Ministry of Railways suspended passenger railway operations until 17 May due to the pandemic.

MOHFW has so far reported more than 35,900 active cases in the country and 1,783 deaths.