A new 1,000-bed coronavirus hospital has opened in a city close to Wuhan where the outbreak of the disease began. The Dabie Mountain Regional Medical Centre started receiving patients at 10.30pm last night after workers spent just 48 hours converting an empty building.
More than 500 construction workers, electricians and police worked around the clock to open the hospital in the Huangzhou District. It was originally intended to be a hospital that would open in May, but faced with the growing threat of the spread of coronavirus they managed to complete the task much sooner.
Local authorities announced on Friday that the building would be converted and work started on Saturday.
Yesterday, it had water, electricity and internet, ready for patients. An even more ambitious building project is underway in Wuhan itself where authorities have given a deadline of Monday for another large hospital in the city. Four hospitals are being built in super-quick time, using pre-fabricated buildings and modelled on a medical centre built in Beijing in 2003 in seven days to tackle SARS.
The death toll in mainland China following the outbreak of coronavirus has risen to 132 while nearly 6,000 people are infected, authorities have said. There were 26 deaths recorded in the last 24 hours, with all but one recorded in Hubei province.
Authorities added there had been an increase in the number of cases to 5,974, up by 1,459 from Tuesday’s figure. Countries on Wednesday began evacuating their citizens from the Chinese city hardest-hit by the outbreak, Wuhan.
Earlier in the morning, a plane carrying Americans who had been in Wuhan left for Anchorage, Alaska, where they will be re-screened for the virus before flying to Ontario, California. Hospitals are prepared to treat or quarantine people who may be infected. A Japanese-chartered flight carrying 206 evacuees from Wuhan landed early Wednesday at Tokyo’s Haneda airport.
The British Government is warning against ‘all but essential travel’ to mainland China amid the outbreak of the new type of coronavirus. Meanwhile, Hong Kong will cut all rail links to the mainland and halve the number of flights to stop the spread of the virus. South Korea also said it will send a plane for its citizens and France, Mongolia and other governments have also planned evacuations.
It comes as the United Arab Emirates confirmed the first cases of the virus in a family who recently returned to the Middle East from Wuhan. China has cut off access to Wuhan and 16 other cities in Hubei province to prevent people from leaving and spreading the virus further.
The lock-down has trapped more than 50 million people in the most far-reaching disease control measures ever imposed. A Japanese aircraft was bringing 20,000 face masks and protective gear, all in short supply as Hubei’s hospitals grapple with a growing number of patients.
Wuhan is building two hospitals in a matter of days to add 2,500 beds for treatment of patients with the virus. Experts worry the new virus may spread more easily than originally thought, or may have mutated into a form that does so. The coronavirus family is responsible for causing the common cold as well as more serious illnesses such as SARS.