COVID-19: Govt taking several steps for availability of personal protection equipment; 5,000 railway coaches being readied for quarantine facilities, says Health Ministry

Addressing a press conference, Ministry of Health Joint Secretary Lav Agrawal said that instructions have been issued regarding the price of medical equipments, needed in the coronavirus campaign.

COVID-19: Govt taking several steps for availability of personal protection equipment; 5,000 railway coaches being readied for quarantine facilities, says Health Ministry

The Union Health Ministry on Wednesday asserted that the government has taken several steps for the availability of personal protection equipment (PPE) required to battle the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Addressing a press conference, Ministry of Health Joint Secretary Lav Agrawal said that instructions have been issued regarding the price of medical equipments, needed in the coronavirus campaign. He added that no company can increase the price by more than 10 per cent.

Speaking on the Tablighi Jamaat, Agrawal stated that 1,800 people related to the religious event have been sent to nine hospitals and quarantine centres. He also added that the recent rise in cases does not represent a national trend.

On the COVID-19 preparedness by the Indian Railways, the joint secretary said that railways is preparing to set up 3.2 lakh isolation and quarantine beds by modifying 20,000 coaches, adding that modification of 5,000 coaches has already begun. These 5,000 coaches would be having the capacity to accommodate up to 80,000 beds. One coach is expected to have 16 beds for isolation.

Only Non-AC ICF sleeper coaches are being planned to be utilized for conversion into quarantine and isolation coaches. One Indian style toilet will be converted into a bathing room and be equipped with bucket, mug and soap dispenser. Taps with lift type handle would be provided in washbasins. Similar tap to be provided at the proper height so that the bucket can be filled.

The first cabin near the bathing room shall be provided with two hospital-plastic curtains transversely in the aisle so that the entry and exit to the entire eight berth cabins can be screened off. This cabin will be used as a store/paramedics area. Two oxygen cylinders will also be provided by the medical department for which suitable clamping arrangement on the side berth side of this cabin is to be provided.

Both middle berths are to be removed in each cabin. Extra bottle holders shall be provided in each cabin for holding medical equipment, two for each berth. Extra three peg coat hooks, two per cabin to be provided. Mosquito nets will be provided on windows to avoid mosquito entry inside and have proper ventilation too. Each cabin will be provided with three dustbins with foot-operated lids of red, blue and yellow colour suitably lined with garbage bags.

He also added that lifeline flights have been started to transport essential commodities like testing kits, medicines and masks.

Agarwal added that the Supreme Court has said that misinformation needs to be checked. "For that, we've created email id technicalquery.covid19@gov.in through which a joint secretary-rank officer of Health Ministry and specialized doctors of AIIMS will provide technical support," he added.

"We have conducted 47,951 tests to date. There are 126 labs in ICMR network, the number of private labs that have been approved is 51," said Indian Council of Medical Research's (ICMR) R Ganga Ketkar.

"The states are arranging food and shelter for migrant workers. A total of 21,486 relief camps have been set up where 6,75,133 persons have been given shelter," said Punya Salila Srivastava, Joint Secretary of the Home Ministry.