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Anand Vihar railway station converted into covid hospital, with modified coaches as wards

Delhi's Anand Vihar railway station that caters for eastern India, has been shut for rail passengers and all the services merged with Old Delhi railway junction as the platforms here have been converted into a makeshift covid hospital with modified coaches providing beds, well-equipped to deal with the rush of spiralling coronavirus cases in the Capital.

NEW DELHI, June 15: As Delhi's health infrastructure is overwhelmed by the mounting number of coronavirus cases streaming in all directions, the administration is at its wits' end wondering how to manage the looming crisis. New ways are thought of to brace the impending disaster.

All train services at Delhi's fourth major railway junction at Anand Vihar are suspended from Monday as the station has been converted into a covid treatment facility with a number of modified non-AC railway coaches providing beds for the patients, according to Railway officials. All trains of Anand Vihar have been moved to Old Delhi Railway Junction.

The Delhi Government has 500 coaches, to begin with. These 500 coaches will have 8,000 beds. All platforms at Anand Vihar are ready to receive patients. The coaches have necessary medical facilities and are equipped with oxygen cylinders, blankets, medicines and sterilised berths, mosquito nets, plug points for mobiles and laptops. The toilets have been converted into bathrooms.

Earlier when the plan was mooted last month, the proposal was to use the modified coaches for patients with mild symptoms but the situation is rather getting out of control.

At present there are 9,816 beds in all Government and private hospitals put together, of which 5,399 are currently occupied as of date. As the Delhi Government estimates its requirements by month- end at 20,000 beds, it plans to convert hotels and banquets also into dedicated covid facilities.

On Sunday, the Delhi Government issued an order converting Hindu Rao Hospital as a designated covid centre. Besides, work is on to erect a 10,000-bed makeshift hospital on the premises of Radha Soami Satsang.

The projection for July end is 80,000 beds with the total number of coronavirus infections going up to 5.5 lakh cases in Delhi, according to Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.

Realising the gravity of the situation, the Delhi Government and the Central Government, arch enemies, are putting their heads together to find ways to deal with the unprecedented emergency, especially after the Supreme Court observation that "patients are treated worse than animals" in crammed Delhi hospitals where bodies and patients are seen put together.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with Delhi Lt-Governor, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria and Health Miinister Vardhan on Sunday. Expert teams have been formed to inspect the conditions in the hospitals.

The Centre which has come to the aid of the local Government says more and more rail coaches will be converted into covid wards.

The Railway Ministry had earlier last month allocated 204 modified coaches for four States to help them scale up their treatment capacity. Of them the first batch of 10 coaches with 160 beds were deployed on May 31. The four States are Delhi (54), Uttar Pradesh (70), Telangana (60) and Andhra Pradesh (20). In Delhi these were located in Shakubasti railway station depot.

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