Indian Railways plans to roll out train hospitals for COVID-19 pandemic in Tier II and Tier III cities as well as villages. Indian Railways has already converted 5,150 train coaches (non-AC) into isolation centres. The NITI Aayog has recently proposed that some of these isolation centres of Indian Railways should be upgraded to hospitals, with ICU, oxygen and ventilator facilities, according to an IE report. As per a presentation shared by the NITI Aayog with states last week, if the nationwide lockdown was lifted on May 3 (as scheduled earlier), the number of COVID-19 cases was estimated to touch 65,000 by May 15, and to 2.74 crore number of cases by August 15. Till now, around 20% of the over 40,000 COVID-19 cases across India have needed hospitalisation.
According to Dr VK Paul, member (health), NITI Aayog, the idea came from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is a logical step as these converted hospitals can reach anywhere in the country within 24 hours, and can be parked anywhere, he said. He further stated that some of these train hospitals could be retained even after the COVID-19 outbreak, to be used during disasters. Some of these converted train hospitals could continue to be with the National Disaster Management Authority, Paul said. The staff for these train hospitals could be sourced either locally from wherever the train is posted or stationed on a rotational basis, he added.