The government could have invested earlier in the ailing health care system. Instead, the government now has to expand hospital capacities using unconventional methods.
When the British built the first passenger railway in India in 1853, they pretended to be a gift to the Indians, and when the colonialists left almost a hundred years later, some of them still thought so. Of course, the British had built the railroad for themselves to bring goods to the ports as quickly as possible and to move soldiers as quickly as possible. Indian passengers were crammed into third class.
Passenger trains ran for 167 years during wars and crises. They connect the country – the Indian rail network would line up one and a half times around the equator. Now, in the COVID crisis, passenger trains are standing still for the first time in India.
It is not yet clear what the pandemic will be like in India, so far the country has reported fewer than 20,000 cases. It is foreseeable, however, that India will reach its limits when it comes to the care of all of its corona patients.
There are only half a hospital bed for every 1,000 people. But because there is no shortage of trains and rails, Indian Railways is converting old cars into mobile hospitals. 20,000 rail coaches are to be converted, half have already been done, the Ministry of Railways wrote in a message.
Nationwide, train compartments are now being converted into isolation stations; Eight patients should be able to lie in each car, possibly twice as many. These hospital wagons can be moved wherever they are needed.
The news from the Ministry of Railways is just right for the Indian government. Of course, the ministry could have invested earlier in the ailing health care system, but now the crisis is there, now the strong symbols count.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered nationwide nine-minute darkness at the beginning of April, people should light a candle and thus create a sense of community.
Meanwhile, the number of infected people is increasing, Muslims are accused of deliberately spreading the virus, and the poorest fear for their existence. But soon the trains will run again.