Bengaluru: The railways has decided to convert around 5000 coaches into isolation wards in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and the surge in the number of affected cases. 
This number can be increased to 20,000 if need be. 

Economic Times quoted an official as saying, “The (Railway) Board has asked zones to be prepared to convert around 20,000 coaches as isolation units if need arises. They have been asked to ready 5,000 coaches to begin with.”

“We have started the work on conversion of 5,000 coaches immediately, and these will be ready in a month, at best. We are seriously pursuing this, learning from global statistics, and preparing accordingly,” ET added another official as saying.

Meanwhile, another popular website added that, apart from the decision to build 5,000 such isolation wards, the Indian Railways has also made available over 6,500 beds at Railway hospitals specifically to treat COVID-19 patients. It has also issued the directive to the rolling stock companies under its administration to start manufacturing sundry medical equipment at scale to aid the nation's fight to contain the pandemic.

It might be added that the railways has taken a decision not to run its passenger services but has kept its freight trains running.

The proposal of using coaches as isolation wards was discussed in a video conference meeting of "Railway Minister with Chairman Railway Board VK Yadav, General Managers of all zones and

Divisional Railway Managers over video conferencing last Wednesday.” 

In the meeting, it was brainstormed as to how the existing coaches could be put to good use during this hour of Covid-19.

It is to be seen how  the  railways deals with factors such as the number of patients in each coach considering some vital factors required for the facility, such as the distance between each patient, essential equipment for monitoring, the use of toilet and hygiene.