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Coronavirus: China's history of building hospitals in times of crisis

Sky News logo Sky News 25/01/2020 Ian Collier, news reporter

China's Wuhan city, the centre of the outbreak of the new coronavirus, will build a second dedicated hospital to treat patients.

a group of people on a beach with a city in the background: Work on new hospital begins © Getty Work on new hospital begins

Construction has already started on the first facility, with enough space for 1,000 patients, which is expected to be completed by 3 February.

The second, which is designed to have 1,300 beds, is due to be finished within three weeks.

This may seem like an unrealistic time frame, however, China has a history of quickly building hospitals at times of crisis.

During the SARS outbreak in 2003, 7,000 people worked day and night in Beijing, taking just seven days to build the Xiaotangshan facility.

a flock of birds sitting on top of a rock: Workers building the Xiaotangshan hospital in 2003 © Reuters Workers building the Xiaotangshan hospital in 2003

It is believed to hold the world record for the fastest construction of a hospital and is thought to have treated one-seventh of China's SARS patients at the time.

China's Peoples Daily newspaper called the building "a miracle in the history of medicine".

That building is believed to be the template for the two prefabricated hospitals being built in Wuhan.

Dozens of diggers and bulldozers arrived at the 25,000 sq metre site on the outskirts of the city on Thursday.

To speed construction and keep costs down, the hospital is being built with prefabricated buildings around a holiday complex originally intended for local workers.

With coronavirus cases rising, the construction can't come soon enough.

President Xi Jinping told a politburo meeting China was facing a "grave situation" where the coronavirus is "accelerating its spread".

A report on state TV said resources and experts are being concentrated at designated hospitals for treatment of severe cases, with no treatment delayed due to cost, and supplies of materials to Hubei province and its capital Wuhan to be guaranteed.

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China's National Health Commission has said the death toll had risen to 56 and a jump in the number of people infected to 1,975.

All the deaths have been in China.


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