Odishatv Bureau

New Delhi: In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the Indian Railways has issued orders to all its zones to withdraw blankets and curtains from AC coaches as they are not washed every day.

Other items in the bedroll, including bed sheets, towels and pillow covers, are washed every day, it said.

The railway board has also instructed that the minimum temperature in the coaches be set at 24-25 degrees Celsius.

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"Adequate publicity should be given regarding this precautionary measure so that passengers are suitability prepared," it said.

"All curtains and spare blankets to be washed, dried and stored in clean and dry storage facility. 100 per cent fresh washed linen to be provided in sealed packets as per existing instructions," it said.

The railways will ask passengers to bring their own blankets through SMS and IVRS.

It has also instructed its personnel to intensively clean coach fittings such as grab handles, window grill, bottle holders and charge points as they are touched by thousands of passengers every day.

Officials said liquid soap, napkin rolls and disinfectant chemical will be provided to passengers by the housekeeping staff on board.

In AC coaches, attendants have been told to not recirculate used linen. They have been advised to maintain vigil for passengers with cold and cough and segregate the linen used by them, an official said.

While blankets for AC travellers are washed twice in a month, the curtains are cleaned once every fortnight.

Meanwhile, the railway authorities in Mumbai have started disinfecting local trains, which carry around 80 lakh suburban commuters every day, as well as long-distance trains.

According to the Central Railway (CR), all the coach fittings, including grab handles, door handles, door latches, entry doors, window grills, electric switches and other parts inside local trains as well as outstation trains are being cleaned using disinfectants.

"In order to ensure cleanliness and hygiene, especially in view of the Covid-19 advisory, special efforts are being put in during primary maintenance of coaches at the coaching depots of CR," an official statement said.

The CR officials said that they were also focusing on cleanliness of outstation trains.

An intensive cleaning and disinfection of toilets is also being ensured, they said.

The railway authorities said that on board cleaning staff has been counselled for frequent en-route cleaning in coaches. Topping up of liquid handwash soap on board is also being ensured in outstation trains.

Linen cleanliness is also being ensured with laundries and coach attendants asked to ensure availability of fresh linen to customers, the CR said.

"The coaching depot maintenance staff and other staff have been counselled to be careful towards personal hygiene and take guard against infections," the CR read.

All curtains in AC coaches will be removed within next 4-5 days, railway officials said.

"Special focus is being given to intensive cleaning of toilets, including washbasins, toilet seat with hot water jet cleaning for better efficacy," the CR said in the statement.

It also said that old blankets will be replaced with new ones immediately.

"All the blankets will be put through the high temp soak in the tumble dryers of the laundries. The high temp soak raises the temperature to 75-80 degrees. This can be supplemented by UV light immersion," it added.

Railway authorities have also announced to set the temperature at AC coaches to summer settings of 23-25 degree Celsius.

A Western Railway (WR) spokesperson said that in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 blankets and curtains shall be immediately withdrawn from service till further orders.

"Passengers have been advised to bring their own blankets. Some quantity of additional bedsheets may be kept for any exigencies," the official said.

Advisory Issued For Vaishno Devi Pilgrims: Shrine To Remain Closed For Visitors For 28 Days

To prevent the inconvenience of pilgrims, certain measures have been taken by Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) on Sunday which includes setting up a help desk at railway stations. The help desks will further assist the pilgrims for thermal screening and other necessary assistance.

SMVDSB on Sunday issued an advisory asking non-resident Indians and foreigners not to visit the temple for 28 days after landing in India in the wake of the coronavirus threat.

It also advised domestic pilgrims, having symptoms like cough, heavy fever and breathing problems, to reschedule or postpone their visit to the holy shrine located atop Trikuta hills in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir.

The SMVDSB said the precautionary measures are being taken to arrest the impact of coronavirus in the shrine area.

"As a preventive measure, an advisory has been issued to the NRIs and foreigners not to visit the shrine for 28 days after landing in India as a precautionary measure against coronavirus," a spokesman of the SMVDSB said.

He said domestic visitors having symptoms like cough, heavy fever and breathing problems are also advised to reschedule or postpone their visit to the shrine.

"The advisories are also being issued on the multipurpose audio system throughout the track from Katra to Bhawan for creating awareness about the coronavirus.

"Additionally, mandatory and complete thermal scanning of all the pilgrims at Tarakote, Banganga and Helipad has been ensured," the spokesman said.

Chief Executive Officer, SMVDSB, Ramesh Kumar said dedicated yatri help desks have been set up at the railway station Katra, helipad, enquiry and reservation at Niharika Complex wherein self-declaration forms have been mandated for the pilgrims visiting from the affected countries.

Thousands of pilgrims from across the country and abroad visit the shrine daily.


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