Loading...
The Financial Express

India plans to turn some idled trains into coronavirus isolation wards

Reuters | Published: March 28, 2020 20:37:52 | Updated: March 29, 2020 14:17:48


India plans to turn some idled trains into coronavirus isolation wards

India said on Saturday it was planning to turn some railway coaches into isolation wards for patients with coronavirus, as authorities scramble to prepare the country's health infrastructure for an expected surge in cases. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the country's 1.3 billion people this week to stay indoors for three weeks in the world's biggest lockdown, seeking to curb the spread of the illness.

India's network of trains, the country's lifeblood, has been idled. 

One train coach has been turned into a prototype quarantine facility, state-owned Indian Railways said in a statement on Saturday. 

Once they get clearance, the plan is for each of India's railway zones to convert 10 coaches into such wards every week, the company added. Indian Railways has 16 zones, according to  its website. 

"Railways will offer clean, sanitised & hygienic surroundings for the patients to comfortably recover," tweeted railways minister Piyush Goyal. He did not specify how many people could be cared for in each coach.

India has so far reported 873 confirmed cases, including 19 deaths. 

The lockdown measures are taking a huge toll on India's poor, including millions of migrant labourers whose jobs in cities have vanished. Many are now walking back to their home villages with public transport cancelled.

On Saturday, a migrant worker, who set out from New Delhi on a 270 kilometres (168 miles) walk to his hometown in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, collapsed and died, a police official said.

The home ministry said in a statement on Saturday it was advising states to provide food and shelter to migrants at relief camps alongside highways. 

PAKISTAN SEEKS ARRESTS

Overall, the number of coronavirus cases in South Asia has  ticked up to 2,578, including 38 deaths. While the toll remains low overall, there are fears it could swell given the region's poor health services and population density.

In Pakistan, police on Saturday registered cases against officials and prayer leaders of 36 mosques for violating a ban on congregational prayers even as cases swelled to over 1,400 in the country. 

A plane carrying relief assistance and eight doctors from key ally China landed in Islamabad on Saturday, a Pakistani foreign ministry statement said. 

"(They will) advise our health care specialists in the light of their experience and success in battling COVID-19 in China," the statement read. China has already given Islamabad testing kits, masks, protective gear and other medical equipment. 

In Nepal, more than 600 European tourists were evacuated on charter flights on Saturday, authorities said, but thousands more are still waiting to be brought home by their countries.

"This will leave between 8,000 and 10,000 tourists still stranded due to lockdown in Nepal," said Dhananjay Regmi, the chief of Nepal's tourism board.

Share if you like