Amazing footage has emerged of Chinese workers labouring around the clock to build a 1000-bed hospital in the city at the epicentre of the coronavirus in just over a week.
The hospital in Wuhan opened on Monday (February 3) – just 10 days after work began to build it.
It is a specialist facility to house the escalating number of coronavirus patients in the Chinese city where the deadly virus first emerged. A second hospital with 1500 beds is also under construction, and will be finished on Wednesday.
China is struggling to deal with the lethal coronavirus outbreak, which has infected more than 14,000 people and had killed 361 by early Monday afternoon (ADST).
The first confirmed fatality outside China came on Sunday, when a man from Wuhan died in the Philippines. Many countries, including Australia, have banned anyone from mainland China from entry.
Other nations have charted planes to evacuate their citizens from China. Australia’s first planeload of evacuees left Wuhan on Monday morning, bound for a fortnight’s quarantine on Christmas Island.
As the coronavirus emergency grew, footage from China showed bodies lying in hospital corridors, and the nation put millions of people in lockdown. President Xi Jinping warned his nation was facing a “grave situation”.
Last week, the Xinhua news agency said the new hospital aimed to “alleviate the shortage of medical treatment resources and improve the ability to care for patients”.
The University of Hong Kong has warned that the total number of coronavirus cases could be far higher than official figures. It said more than 75,000 people might have been infected in Wuhan alone.
The BBC reports that the mayor of Huanggang – a city of six million people to the east of Wuhan – has said the number of cases there will spike in the coming days. Up to 700,000 people are thought to have returned to Huanggang from Wuhan before the city was locked down.
Local TV reported at the weekend that 1400 Chinese army medical staff, some with experience of infectious diseases, were on their way to the new hospital in Wuhan.
With no end in sight to the outbreak, authorities in Hubei and elsewhere have tightened restrictions on residents further, allowing only one family member to venture out to buy supplies every other day.
They have also extended the Lunar New Year holiday break, due to end this week, well into February to try to keep people at home and reduce the spread of the virus. All Hubei schools have postponed the start of the new semester until further notice.