To rapidly increase its capacity and effectively manage the anticipated wave of coronavirus cases in the national capital, the Delhi government has started converting the Radha Soami Spiritual Centre in South Delhi into world's largest temporary COVID-19 care facility with 10,000 beds.
One of the most interesting features of this facility would be its corrugated cardboard beds, which need not be sanitised but can be, and are recyclable.
"These beds need not be sanitised as the virus does not remain stable on cardboard for more than 24 hours; on metal, plastic and wood the virus can stay for up to five days. These beds are also really light, easy to assemble and dismantle. Supplying these beds for the facility is a matter of pride for us," said Vikram Dhavan, director of Dhavan Box Sheet Containers Pvt Ltd, which is making and supplying the beds.
The Chhatarpur centre has a covered area of 12,50,000 square feet, as large as 22 football fields, with preinstalled fans and CCTV cameras where almost 3 lakh people would attend sermons before the pandemic, making it the ideal choice to be quickly converted into a temporary COVID care facility.
"The facility was being used to shelter migrant workers until recently. Its community kitchens are semi-industrial and can feed thousands of people at a time," Vikas Sethi, secretary of Radha Soami Satsang Beas, Bhati Mines, said.
South Delhi district magistrate BM Mishra, who is overseeing the work, said the facility - being set up as per the Covid and healthcare guidelines of the central government - will function like 20 mini hospitals with 500 beds, each.
"Each 500-bed hospital will have 5-10 enclosures of 50-100 beds. Ten per cent of the beds will have oxygen supply. However, it will not have ventilators. We have made arrangements for referral with super specialty hospitals for critical patients," Mr Mishra said, adding that the Chhatarpur facility will have ambulances and its own pathology laboratory for testing.
The South Delhi district magistrate added that at least 400 doctors will be working here in two shifts, backed by double the number of paramedics.
To ensure that the facility is well-managed, Mr Mishra said they were trying to implement the best e-managements systems used in hospitals. "We're trying to install computers so everything is smooth and seamless," he said, adding they're trying to ascertain manpower needs and were getting a lot of help from the military, paramilitary and philanthropists for the mammoth task.
"The military and paramilitary will help with operations, maintenance, logistics, medical equipment and manpower - sanitation workers, pathologists, technicians, pharmacists," he said.
We are working on war footing and we hope to complete it by June 30, he said.
According to the Delhi government's estimates, coronavirus cases in the national capital are likely to breach the 5 lakh-mark by July end. Around one lakh beds will be needed for COVID-19 patients.
The Delhi government recently directed district magistrates and other officials concerned to make arrangements for 20,000 additional beds.
This was in addition to the 8,000 beds that would be made available by converting 500 rail coaches, as per the announcement made by Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday. He also announced steps for making 60 per cent coronavirus beds in private hospitals available at lower rates and increasing testing by three times in six days.
The city currently has about 10,000 dedicated COVID-19 beds in state-run, central and private hospitals.