Inside world’s biggest temporary COVID hospital: 10,000 beds, located in 300-acre compound
With the size of 22 football grounds, Radha Soami COVID facility is set to become the world’s biggest temporary COVID-19 hospital. It will cater to 10,000 coronavirus patients. According to the Delhi CM, the facility will be ready by July first week.
The Radha Soami Satsang Baes’ (RSSB) compound located on the South Delhi-Haryana border is spread in roughly 300 acres. The sprawling shade, covering 29 acres of land, served as the centre for the sect’s spiritual programmes, accommodating up to 3 lakh followers during their annual congregations.
Now the centre -- with a size of 22 football grounds -- is being prepared as the COVID facility. And it is likely to be the world’s biggest temporary COVID hospital.
“Considering the surge in COVID cases in Delhi, we offered to convert our centre into a COVID facility,” said Vikas Sethi, who oversees RSSB’s initiative to help the Delhi government. “We had met the Lieutenant Governor roughly ten days back and offered our compound to him.” The RSSB has already prepared 96 beds as part of the pilot project.
According to the Delhi Government, the RSSB COVID facility will be ready by the first week of July 1 and will have 10,000 beds. On June 18, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia had visited the facility to inspect the preparations.
“By June 30, 15,000 beds will be required in Delhi. By July 15 we will need 30,000 beds. These preparations are being made in that direction,” the Delhi CM had said.
Projections show that by the end of July, the national capital will have nearly 5.5 lakh coronavirus positive cases. But Delhi has only nearly 13,500 beds, according to Delhi Corona application data. The RSSB facility alone will add another 10,000 beds -- which means nearly an 80 percent ramp-up.
According to the RSSB administration, the facility would have 500 washrooms and 500 bathrooms for COVID patients.
While the Delhi government will take over the facility once ready, the security of the compound will be the responsibility of the paramilitary forces, said Sethi. The RSSB will make the arrangements for food of the COVID admitted here and bear the cost.
Meanwhile, the RSSB sewadaars (volunteers) are making sure the kuccha flooring is levelled before it is handed over to the authorities, the compound is sanitised, and the shade becomes leak proof. The facility already has an up and running public announcement system which might come handy for managing patients in such large numbers.
According to reports, the RSSB facility has been renamed as Sardar Patel COVID-19 Care Centre and Hospital by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
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Ever since the government has started Unlock 1.0, the COVID cases in Delhi are fast increasing. This means the national capital needs to ramp up its healthcare infrastructure rapidly.
However, the tussle between the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led the Central government had exposed the lack of preparation in the national capital. LG Anil Baijal, by reversing the Kejriwal government’s hospital reservation order, opened Delhi hospitals for patients from other states. This was a major blow to the AAP government’s preparation as they were hoping to ramp up the COVID related healthcare infrastructure as per the patient inflow.
On June 19, LG Baijal had ordered compulsory 5-day institutional quarantine. The order would have forced hundreds of COVID patients, with mild symptoms, to get admitted in the government facilities. However, the LG withdrew the order on June 20 after push back from the AAP government.
However, these two instances brought the focus back on the need to increase the COVID beds rapidly. As of now, Delhi has roughly 13,500 beds at its disposal, as opposed to nearly 24,000 active cases.
According to the AAP government’s projection, the national capital will require 80,000 beds to cater to COVID patients from Delhi alone. The surge in patients from neighbouring states could further increase the required numbers.
This means the Delhi health department is racing against time.
In order to prepare 10,000 beds by July first week, the administration is also eyeing innovative ideas at the RSSB facility.
Besides the regular beds, two types of temporary beds are being tried here. The first type is made of cardboard. They are biodegradable, cost-effective, and easier to transport, install and discard.
The second type is made of plastic-like material but much lighter in weight. Like the cardboard beds, these too are easier to transport and install.
Notably, the Indian Railways has also prepared nearly 4,200 beds in the isolation coaches at East Delhi’s Anand Vihar Railway station. However, those isolation coaches run at the risk of becoming a frying pan for COVID-19 patients as they are non-AC train coaches. They would also lack proper distance between the beds of two patients.
Unlike the Anand Vihar facility, the RSSB COVID centre is being prepared at a sprawling compound surrounded by greenery, with proper air circulation facility and social distancing between the patients. This COVID facility is less likely to give a sense of jail or confinement to those fighting the deadly virus.