Terming the less utilisation of the railways' COVID-19 care coaches "a good sign", a senior official on Thursday said this means the state governments have adequate facilities to deal with the pandemic.
The railways, which has so far converted around 5,000 non-airconditioned coaches into COVID care centres, has deployed 813 of those with 12,472 beds in Delhi (503), Uttar Pradesh (270) and Bihar (40).
Around 250 patients have been admitted to these centres so far and more than half of them discharged.
"Utilisation of these coaches is less as the health ministry SOP itself says these are to be used only when the state government facilities are exhausted. I believe it is a good sign that they are being used less as cases are reducing and the states have adequate facilities to control the coronavirus. The coaches are just supplementary COVID care centres," Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav said.
These modified coaches for COVID patients have been divided into eight bays or "cabins" with each having 16 beds. Every coach has three toilets -- one western and two Indian style -- and a bathroom with handshowers, buckets, mugs and bathroom stools.
The coaches have mosquito nets, bio-toilets, power sockets and oxygen cylinders.
Space has been created in these coaches to hold IV fluid bottles, extra bottle holders and clamps have been provided to hang them.
"The most important aspect of the COVID care coaches is that these are to be used only when the states have exhausted their facilities. These coaches are provided on the demand of the state governments. We pray to god that these coaches are used as little as possible and the spread of COVID-19 is controlled as early as possible.
"The advantage of these coaches is they can be moved from one place to another. The second advantage is that if a patient needs to be shifted to a hospital far away, even at a distance of 200 km, these coaches can be used to transport him. We are prepared for any emergency and whenever there is a need, we will immediately move them," Mr Yadav said.
With the highest single-day spike of 45,720 cases, India's COVID-19 tally crossed the 12-lakh mark on Thursday, while the deaths due to the disease mounted to 29,861 with a record 1,129 fatalities in 24 hours, according to the Union health ministry.
The country crossed the 12-lakh mark in terms of COVID-19 cases just three days after it went past the 11-lakh milestone.