Unused Trains in India Being Converted Into Hospitals

After India went into lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 25, Indian Railways decided to suspend all passenger trains across the country until April 14, marking the railway’s first suspension in 167 years.

Indian Railways, Asia’s oldest railway network, operates over 20,000 passenger trains a day from 7,349 stations across India. While freight trains continue to operate, thousands of passenger trains are currently unused.

To put many of the idle trains to good use, Indian Railways is converting nearly 20,000 old train carriages into isolation wards for coronavirus patients. The network already operates 125 across the nation.

According to CNN, India has reported 4,288 cases of coronavirus and 117 deaths as of April 1. While the country’s hospitals are not currently overcrowded, the repurposed trains will be ready to use if the number of cases continues to rise.

“Now, the railways will offer clean, sanitized and hygienic surroundings for the patients to comfortably recover,” Piyush Goyal, the Railways Minister via Twitter.

Each carriage available will be sanitized and converted into a hospital ward able to accommodate up to 16 patients, complete with a nurses’ station, a doctor’s cabin and enough space for medical supplies and equipment. Each train will be sent to locations with rising cases of coronavirus.

Preparing to Combat Coronavirus: In a novel initiative, Railways has converted train coaches into isolation wards for COVID-19 patients

Now, Railways will offer clean, sanitised & hygienic surroundings for the patients to comfortably recover. #IndiaFightsCorona pic.twitter.com/miYO3LOGfN

Local health authorities will assign government doctors, paramedics, nurses and volunteers to the trains.

Additionally, railway factories are assessing the possibility of manufacturing hospital beds, stretchers, medical trolleys, masks, sanitizers, aprons and medical apparatus such as ventilators for use in railway hospitals and other government hospitals.

“The first 5,000 isolation wards will be ready within a fortnight, and if necessary, more carriages can be converted within 48 hours”, said Rajesh Dutt Bajpai, executive director of information and publicity at the Railway Board.

The trains will not act as a substitute for full-service hospitals and are to be used for patients who have tested positive for coronavirus but are not critically ill.

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Lockdown has resulted in Marwell Zoo's webcam views soaring by 27,000%

Animal magic: The coronavirus lockdown has resulted in viewings to a zoo’s webcams soaring by 27,000 PER CENT

  • The Hampshire zoo has reported 64,000 viewings compared to 187 last week
  • Dedicated workers are taking care of the animals even though the zoo is closed 
  • The zoo’s live flamingo cam is proving particularly popular with remote viewers   
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

With the UK in coronavirus lockdown, a zoo in Hampshire has seen a huge surge in people tuning in to view its live animal webcams.

Thousands of families have enjoyed live access to Marwell Zoo’s flamingos, penguins, giraffes and black-and-white-ruffed lemurs without leaving the house.

Viewings this week have reached 64,000 compared to 187 last week – an increase of nearly 27,000 per cent.

Thousands of families have enjoyed live access to Marwell Zoo’s flamingos, penguins, giraffes and black-and-white-ruffed lemurs without leaving the house

Paul Simmons, Head of Marketing, said in a statement: ‘We are absolutely blown away by the number of people logging onto our webcams. It’s gone bonkers! It was pootling along for a few days then suddenly it all went crazy.

‘Even though we’re closed, it’s nice that people can still keep in touch with what’s going on at the zoo and our conservation work through our social media channels and webcams.’

Although the zoo – home to over 140 species and owned by Marwell Wildlife, a global conservation charity leading programs in the UK, Africa and across the world – is temporarily closed, the charity’s dedicated animal teams including zookeepers and vets are working hard to ensure the animals are enjoying the same levels of care, the statement said.

The zoo reports that remote viewers are particularly enjoying watching the zoo’s live flamingo cam with a total of 34,500 in the past week compared to 86 the previous week – an increase of 34,500 per cent.

James Ellis, Birds Team Leader, said: ‘It’s breeding time here at the zoo and you may see online that our flamingos have been performing elaborate group courtship displays such as synchronised wing-raising and “head-flagging”, which involves raising the neck and beak and turning the head from side to side. 

Webcam viewings at Marwell Zoo have reached 64,000 compared to 187 last week

‘They may also start nest building too – flamingos build cone-shaped nests that look like mounds of mud.’ 

The charity engages with over 50,000 schoolchildren through curriculum-based education programs and welcomes more than 500,000 visitors each year to its 140-acre site.

For more information visit www.marwell.org.uk and click here for the webcams.

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