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Railway converts 5000 coaches into isolation wards, likely to deploy them in rural areas

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Railway workers disinfect coaches of the Delhi-Jammu Rajdhani Express train as a measure against the coronavirus pandemic, at New Delhi Railway Station, on 15 March 2020 | Arun Sharma | PTI
File image of Railway workers disinfecting coaches of the Delhi-Jammu Rajdhani Express as a measure against the coronavirus pandemic, at New Delhi Railway Station, on 15 March 2020 | Arun Sharma | PTI


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New Delhi: Railways has converted 5,000 coaches into isolation wards for those infected with coronavirus and is likely to deploy them in rural areas after consultation with the health ministry, officials said Saturday.

The railways has set a target of converting 20,000 coaches to counter the pandemic, of which 5,000 coaches with 80,000 beds are ready to be deployed, the ministry said.

“The idea of converting these coaches was to ensure that in rural areas, in regions where medical facilities were not available, care for COVID-19 patients could be provided. The health ministry would guide us and we will deploy these trains. We will maintain them and make sure they are in good condition,” an official said.

He also said that if required railways could also provide the linen to be used in such coaches, but they will be for one time use only.

The official also said that the railways is also contemplating how the train, which will be non-air conditioned, can be insulated against the summer heat.

Officials say that there there were discussions within the railways to see if trains like the Lifeline Express can be produced where doctors would take care of all kinds of patients or something like the accident relief trains which are equipped with operation theatre.

However, the ideas were dropped because producing such trains would take more time and it was pointed out that the railway isolation units had been prepared as Level 1 COVID-19 Care Centre facilities.

There will be 10 coaches in each of these trains with the capacity to hold 16 patients in each. Officials say one airconditioned coach could be attached to these trains for doctors and other medical staff.

The death toll due to the novel coronavirus rose to 239 and the number of cases to 7,447 in the country on Saturday, according to the Union Health Ministry.

While the number of active COVID-19 cases is 6,565, as many as 642 people were cured and discharged and one had migrated, it said. As many as 33 new deaths have been reported since Friday evening, the ministry said.


Also read:Madhya Pradesh railways designs mobile, zero-contact ‘doctor’s booth’ amid PPE shortage


 

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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay


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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


 

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