Around 60 excavators were today crammed onto a 25,000-sq-m site in the Chinese city of Wuhan, racing to prepare the ground for a 1,000-bed hospital set to open before 3 February – nine days away – in an effort to tackle the potentially fatal coronavirus.
An expert there is reported to have said the instant hospital is needed to ease rising tensions.
Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, is the epicentre of the outbreak that was first detected on 31 December. It and nine other cities in China have been locked down in an effort to contain the novel form of pneumonia.
By the start of today it had caused 26 deaths in China, with 830 confirmed cases in the country and a small number of cases confirmed in Thailand, the US, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Singapore, BBC News reports.Â
Remarkable aerial photographs published by state news bureau Xinhua show the construction site packed with machinery.
Wuhan city government said last night that the design plan for the hospital would be complete today, and that it would copy the Beijing Xiaotangshan Hospital, which authorities had built in seven days to treat victims of the Sars outbreak in 2003, reports China Daily.Â
Xinhua reported that, like Xiaotangshan hospital, the one in Wuhan would consist of "movable plank houses" for speedy construction.
7,000 construction workers built the 25,000-sq-m Xiaotangshan hospital on the northern outskirts of Beijing. Of 680 Sars patients hospitalised there, only eight died, said China Daily.
Wuhan’s official newspaper, Changjiang Daily, quoted an anonymous expert as saying it was necessary to build the hospital "to ease the tension between the increasing demand by patients infected by the virus and insufficient medical resources", China Daily relayed.
Image Â©GCR, illustration by Denis Carrier