Wuhan coronavirus hospital opens after being built in just ten days

3 February 2020, 18:09 | Updated: 3 February 2020, 18:10

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The first patients have arrived at a specialist 1,000-bed coronavirus hospital in Wuhan that was built in just ten days.

The Huoshenshan Hospital was handed over to military medics on Sunday and began receiving patients on Monday, according to state media.

Construction of the medical facility began as part of China's efforts to tackle the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has so far killed more than 360 people.

A second building with 1,500 beds is also due to open this week as construction crews work around the clock in Wuhan, the central-Chinese city where the disease is thought to have originated from in December.

Most of the city's 11 million-strong population have been barred from leaving, in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.

Chinese authorities responded with similar speed in building specialist hospitals in the midst of the Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak in 2003, when a hospital in Beijing was built in just a week.

Chinese state media gave no details of the identities of the patients or their conditions.

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Roughly 1,400 doctors, nurses and other personnel were sent by the Communist Party's military wing, the People's Liberation Army, to staff the hospital.

Some of those sent have past experience fighting Sars and other similar outbreaks, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

The facility was built by a 7,000-member crew of carpenters, plumbers, electricians and other specialists who were often seen wearing winter clothing, safety helmets and surgical-style masks worn to contain the virus' spread.

Huoshenshan Hospital was built to combat coronavirus
Huoshenshan Hospital was built to combat coronavirus. Picture: Reuters

About half of the two-storey, 60,000-square-metre building consists of isolation wards, as well as 30 intensive care units, according to the government newspaper Yangtze Daily.

Doctors needing to speak with experts from outside the city can speak via video link to Beijing's PLA General Hospital.

The system was installed in less than 12 hours by a 20-member "commando team" from Wuhan Telecom Ltd.

Also in the building are specialised ventilation systems and double-sided cabinets that connect patient rooms to hallways. They also allow hospital staff to deliver supplies without entering the rooms.

Astonishing drone footage previously captured the quick progress made after just four days of construction work.

The time-lapse video, taken over a few days, showed the site of the Huoshenshan Hospital transformed from a patch of empty land to a busy space filled with cement lorries and builders.

Authorities have cut most road, rail and air access to Wuhan and surrounding cities, isolating some 50 million people, in efforts to contain the viral outbreak that has sickened more than 17,000 and killed more than 360 people.

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