New Delhi, April 15 (IANS) With the growing demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) across the country amid the novel coronavirus crisis, the Indian Railways on Wednesday said that it plans to supply 30,000 PPE to medical professionals by April-end.
The national transporter also said that it plans to manufacture one lakh PPE in May.
A Railway Ministry spokesperson said that the production units, workshops and field units have started manufacturing PPE coveralls for healthcare personnel, who get directly exposed to coronavirus while treating infected patients.
"Indian Railways will produce over 30,000 such coveralls in April 2020 and plan to manufacture one lakh in May," the official said.
"In order to fill the gap in availability and requirement of PPE, the Jagadhari workshop of Northern Railway had taken the initiative to design and manufacture the prototype PPE coverall. The prototype was tested by Defence Research Development Establishment (DRDO) Laboratory at Gwalior, authorised for conducting such tests," he said, adding that it had cleared the test with the higest grades.
The official said that Railway doctors, medical professionals, other health workers and caregivers are working tirelessly to fight coronavirus.
He said that as a first line of defence against contracting coronavirus, the health professionals need to be provided with special impervious coverall that acts as a barrier to the virus as well as other disease-carrying fluids.
The official pointed out that taking the initiative forward, Indian Railways has been able to procure and distribute to its workshops and other units sufficient raw material for manufacturing more than 30,000 PPE coveralls in April.
"The production has started and Railway's own doctors, the end-users of these coveralls, have also been involved in trying out these coveralls as their production is ramped up. To meet the growing requirement, Indian Railways have set the target of manufacturing another one lakh PPE coveralls in May and sourcing appropriate raw material has started," he said.
Planning for any future requirement, the Railways has already converted 5,000 coaches into isolation wards for over 80,000 Covid-19 patients.
The 21-day nationwide lockdown from March 24 to April 14 was extended till May 3 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to combat the spread of the pandemic.
The Railways has also extended the suspension of passenger, mail and express train services till May 3 and also stopped passenger bookings until further orders.