New Delhi, April 11 (IANS) The Indian railways on Saturday said that it has completed the task of converting 5,000 coaches into isolation wards for the patients infected with coronavirus.

A senior railway ministry official said that the 5,000 coaches can accomodate 80,000 Covid-19 patients. He, however, said that the coaches are yet to be used as the isolation wards across the country.

The official said that no coach is currently in use as they are planned to be used when required.

The Indian railways has planned to convert 20,000 coaches into isolation wards with over 3.25 lakh wards for the Covid-19 patients.

On the other hand, the National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRCL) has provided 77 furnished rooms at its High Speed Rail Training Institute in Gujarat’s Vadodara to health department of VMC medical department to be used for quarantine Covid-19 patients.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has said that the national transporter has provided food to over 10 lakh people across the country in the last 15 days.

Goyal took to twitter and wrote, “Railways stands committed to fight COVID-19: In line with PM Narendra Modiji’s social service commitment, Railways has distributed more than 10 lakh free hot cooked meals to needy persons across the country.”

The railway ministry in a statement said that the national transporter has been providing bulk cooked food with paper plates for lunch and food packets for dinner through IRCTC base kitchens, RPF resources and contribution of NGOs since March 28.

The ministry said that meal distribution on Saturday crossed one million mark with a total of nearly 10.2 lakh.

It said that with the active cooperation of IRCTC base kitchens in New Delhi, Bangalore, Hubli, Mumbai Central, Ahmedabad, Bhusaval, Howrah, Patna, Gaya, Ranchi, Katihar, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Nagar, Balasore, Vijaywada, Khurda, Katpadi, Tiruchirapalli, Dhanbad, Guwahati, Samastipur, Prayagraj, Itarsi, Vishakhapatnam, Chengalpatu, Pune, Hajipur, Raipur and Tatanagar spread over various zones such as Northern, Western, Eastern, Southern and South Central.

The railways said that of these, over 60 per cent cooked meals have been provided by IRCTC, about 2.3 lakh meals have been provided by RPF from its own resources and nearly 2 lakh meals have been donated by NGOs working with the Railway organizations.

The Indian railways has attended over 2.05 lakh calls from its newly formed Railway Control Office during the first two weeks of the 21-day nationwide lockdown amid the coronavirus crisis.The ministry in a statement said that to assist railway passengers, other citizens and help resolve issues in freight operations, Indian railways has opened a Railway Control Office after the declaration of the lockdown.

The ministry said that railway personnel responded to over 2,05,000 queries in first two weeks of lockdown on helplines (138 and 139), social media and email. Out of which over 1,85,000 calls were handled through direct human interaction.

The Indian railways has suspended the passenger, mail and express train services to contain the spread of Covid-19 from March 24 to April 14. Only the special parcel trains and freight trains are running to ensure the supply of essential items across the country.

On Saturday, the total number of Covid-19 cases in India rose to 7,528 with 242 deaths across the country.

–IANS

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