WUHAN, China – Workers in China are swiftly building a 1,000-bed hospital to treat people who have been sickened by a new strain of the coronavirus that has claimed more than two dozen lives and sickened hundreds of others in the country, according to multiple reports.
Ten bulldozers and nearly three dozen diggers arrived Thursday night at the future site of the hospital in Wuhan, Reuters reported, citing Changjiang Daily. The facility was being built using prefabricated buildings around a holiday complex on the outskirts of the city that was originally meant for local workers, according to Reuters.
Officials expect to complete construction on the 270,000-square-foot lot by Feb. 3, The Associated Press reported.
The facility was being built amid reports of hospital bed shortages as hundreds of people fell ill during the country’s popular Lunar New Year travel season. Several people in Wuhan, the epicenter of the viral outbreak, told The Guardian they had been turned away from hospitals due to the flood of patients seeking testing and treatment.
At least eight hospitals in Wuhan have called for donations of items including masks and goggles as they work to meet demand for medical treatment, according to the AP.
“The construction of this project is to solve the shortage of existing medical resources,” Changjiang Daily reported, according to Reuters. “Because it will be prefabricated buildings, it will not only be built fast but it also won’t cost much.”
The facility was being modeled after the Xiaotangshan SARS hospital built in 2003 in Beijing, the AP reported. That hospital was built by 7,000 workers in just six days during the SARS outbreak, which killed 800 and sickened people in more than a dozen countries, according to the AP and Reuters. The facility, which was deemed a success, treated 700 patients over less than two months before it closed, The Guardian and Reuters reported.
As of Friday, 26 people have died and more than 900 people have been infected with coronavirus in China since reports of the virus first surfaced last month, according to CNN and the AP. Several cases have also been confirmed in other countries, including two in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health officials believe the virus can spread from person-to-person, though it remained unclear Friday just how easily the virus spread.
Officials recommend that any people who have recently traveled to Wuhan and subsequently experienced flu-like symptoms — including fever, coughing, shortness of breath or a sore throat — contact their health care providers.
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