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Explained: How China is building hospital for coronavirus patients so quickly?


Beijing, Jan 30: In the face of mounting pressure to combat coronavirus which has claimed 170 lives so far and about 7,700 cases of a new viral respiratory illness have been confirmed, China is building two new hospitals in Wuhan as special emergency facilities.

The building of Wuhan Leishenshan Hospital and Wuhan Huoshenshan Hospital is an emergency measure taken by municipal authorities to resolve the insufficiency of the city's medical resources.

Explained: How China is building hospital for coronavirus patients so quickly?

The facility in the central city of Wuhan is expected to be in use by February 5 to serve a rising number of patients infected by a coronavirus in an effort to curb the spread.

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Dozens of excavators and trucks were filmed working on the site. It will have a capacity of 1,300 beds spread over more than 3,22,917 square feet, the official said.

Construction began as reports surfaced of bed shortages in hospitals designated as dealing with the outbreak, which has now infected 7,700 people across China. Xinhua said the new facility is aimed at "alleviating the shortage of medical treatment resources and improving the ability to care for patients".

How is it even possible to build a hospital within a week?

China has a record of getting things done fast even for monumental projects like this. It is exactly modelled on a similar hospital set up that was in Beijing to help tackle the Sars virus in 2003. It treated one-seventh of the country's SARS patients in the space of two months.

According to Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, the engineers would be brought in from across the country in order to complete construction in time.

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"The engineering work is what China is good at. They have records of building skyscrapers at speed. This is very hard for westerners to imagine. It can be done," he added.

What happened during the Sars outbreak?

In 2003, China erected a hospital on Beijing's rural outskirts in 7 days to a rapidly rising number of patients suffering from SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which killed 349 people in mainland China and 299 in Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

Xiaotangshan Hospital consisted of prefabricated structures and Xinhua reported Friday that Wuhan was building the new facility based on the same model. The city of over 11 million people has been centralising its treatment of the new virus by isolating patients in 61 clinics and designated hospitals.

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Chinese officials have said the virus likely originated from wild animals at a seafood market in the city but it has since spread to several countries around Asia and beyond. The outbreak has prompted authorities in at least eight Chinese cities to impose travel restrictions and cancel public events to curb the spread.

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