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Coronavirus- PM Modi directs ministries to scale production of medical equipment



PM Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked government ministries to find innovative ways of using their resources to set up manufacturing of medical equipment like ventilators and scaling up their production.

The cabinet meeting chaired by the PM on Wednesday discussed ways of using state-owned facilities and production units for boosting manufacture and supply of medical equipment and setting up quarantine facilities.

The railways is mulling using its vast pool of coaches to be converted to isolation wards. It has already begun work on using locomotive production units to manufacture ventilators and other medical equipment. “There is a plan to use vast pool of non-AC coaches for setting up isolation wards and about 20,000 such coaches had been identified for the same. Railways has also begun production of masks, sanitisers and other supplies,” a railway ministry official said.

Indian Railways has also been tasked with using its large manufacturing and locomotive production units and workshops for manufacturing essential medical equipment such as ventilators, hospital beds, and stretchers, among others, on a war-footing.

The national carrier has issued directions to production units – the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai and Diesel Loco Works in Varanasi – among others. The Railway Board has asked production units and workshops to assess the feasibility to manufacture these items in large quantities, as may be required, at a short notice.

Ministries like defence and the heavy industries and public enterprises have also been asked to utilise their resources for ramping up production of medical gear. Defence ministry’s production units like R&D organization the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) are exploring collaborations with private companies for production of ventilators. The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) too have been tasked with production of medical supply. State owned aerospace and defence company Bharat Electronics Limited has also been engaged in manufacturing of ventilators.

The ministry of heavy industries has reached out to automobile manufacturers for utilising their manufacturing facilities for production of ventilators. The ministry has written to automakers seeking their help to aid the government.

“We are working on an automated version of the Bag Valve Mask ventilator (commonly known as Ambu bag). We hope to have a proto ready in three days for approval. Once proven this design will be made available to all for manufacturing,” Pawan Goenka, managing director of Mahindra and Mahindra Limited, said.

The availability of ventilators will be a key determinant in India’s success to keep the mortality rate of Covid-19 patients down, should community transmission sets in. India needs around 2.1 ventilators per 10,000 patients to battle the Covid-19 outbreak, according to medical experts.

On March 21, a panel of senior scientists cleared an industry proposal to ramp up production of ventilators in the country to minimise shortages in the context of an increasing number of people testing positive for the Sar-CoV-2 virus, which causes the Covid-19 infection.

The textile ministry has also pointed towards the shortage of body coveralls and N-95 masks for healthcare staff. An emergency control room has also been setup by the ministry to monitor production and supply of medical textiles including N-95 mask, body coveralls and melt-blown fabric.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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