New Wuhan hospital set to open Monday

New Wuhan hospital set to open Monday

First temporary hospital completed in 10 days

Excavators and workers are seen at the construction site where the new Huoshenshan Hospital is being built to treat patients of a new coronavirus on the outskirts of Wuhan on Jan 27. (China Daily via Reuters)
Excavators and workers are seen at the construction site where the new Huoshenshan Hospital is being built to treat patients of a new coronavirus on the outskirts of Wuhan on Jan 27. (China Daily via Reuters)

China’s military is boosting its medical team in Wuhan to 1,400 personnel, on the direct orders of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

They will staff the first completed temporary hospital which has been built from scratch in response to the crisis and is due to open on Monday.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force began airlifting medical personnel and supplies to Wuhan, in the central Chinese province of Hubei, on Sunday morning in what was described as its largest non-military transport operation since the 2010 Yushu earthquake. A defence ministry statement said the deployment had been personally approved by Mr Xi.

Eight IL-76 aircraft arrived at Wuhan’s Tianhe airport on Sunday, carrying 58 tonnes of supplies, as well as doctors and nurses, to join the 450 military medical personnel already in the city. Many have experience in fighting the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak in 2003, as well as Ebola in West Africa in 2014.

The medical staff will be deployed to the Huoshenshan Hospital, which was constructed in eight days and formally handed over to military control on Sunday, specifically to care for coronavirus patients. A second temporary hospital, Leishenshan, is also going up at top speed in the city and is expected to be operational on Wednesday.

The makeshift hospitals replicate a step regarded as instrumental in Beijing’s fight 17 years ago against Sars. In April 2003, Beijing built a similar, 1,000-bed facility in the town of Xiaotangshan. That facility, named the PLA Sars hospital, treated almost 15% of the country’s Sars patients in two months.

The new hospitals became a hit on Chinese state media, with more than 40 million people watching their construction in real time since live streaming of the work started screening last Monday.

The Philippines on Sunday reported the first coronavirus fatality outside China, hours after President Rodrigo Duterte was reported to be set to issue a travel ban on visitors from China, including Hong Kong and Macau, to curb the spread of the disease.

China’s National Health Commission announced on Saturday that a further 45 people in China had died and 2,590 had been infected. All of the dead, and 1,921 of the new cases, were in Hubei province. The total number of cases nationwide had reached 14,380, with a national death toll of 304, the commission said.


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