The government has identified 215 railway stations for the deployment of railways' isolation coaches to be used as 'COVID Care Centres' for suspected or confirmed patients categorised as mild or very mild cases.
These stations will be deployed across 23 states and Union Territories, a health ministry document has stated.
"Considering the possibility of increase in cases of COVID- 19, a view is taken to utilize Railway coaches for COVID care centre," the guidelines issued by the ministry on Wednesday, said.
The patients lodged in the coaches will be observed for their symptoms and clinical condition.
In cases of deterioration of the symptoms or clinical conditions, they would be referred to a designated centre or hospital for further management, the document said.
The coaches will be spread across all major hotspots in India and cover both the big cities as well as rural, far-off places. The list includes districts currently in the 'green' zones as well as a large number of 'orange' zones. The trains will be deployed at railway stations and will be attached to the nearest COVID hospitals, the government guidelines said.
The railway stations identified in the list include Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata and all major cities in states like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Tripura, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Karnataka.
The most number of stations are in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.
The guidelines say that in 85 of the stations, railway hospitals will have their own medical staff while in the remaining 130 stations the respective state/UT government may place a request for placing the coaches only if they agree to provide staff and essential medicines at such stations, the health ministry guidelines said.
It also said that railways will provide food, linen and oxygen facilities in the coaches.
Railways currently has prepared 5,150 such coaches and there are plans afoot to convert some of them into 'hospitals on wheels' with facilities to treat all kinds of patients.
Inputs from PTI