Two hospitals under construction in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the centre of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, are on track to open within an ambitious construction timeline of 10-days.
The contagious virus, which is believed to have originated in a seafood market in the Chinese central city of Wuhan, has killed more than 131 people and infected more than 5,500 to date.
In order to combat the outbreak, Chinese officials have been working around the clock to construct two new makeshift hospitals made from prefabricated buildings, in order to provide up to 2,300 beds.
The temporary hospitals are also part of the authorities’ efforts to contain the illness, with measures being enacted across the country, including a lockdown on more than a dozen cities.
Construction of the 25,000sq m Wuhan Huoshenshan Hospital, which commenced last week, has involved hundreds of construction workers, 35 diggers and 10 bulldozers working day and night to clear the site.
The hospital's design is reportedly based on the Xiaotangshan Hospital that was was erected within a week in the northern suburbs of Beijing during the SARS outbreak in 2003. At the time, the project set a world record for hospital construction.
The new Huoshenshan Hospital will feature individual isolation units that looked like rows of tiny cabins.
To speed up construction, the hospital is being built using prefabricated buildings in gardens alongside a holiday complex on the outskirts of the city which inhabits 11 million people.
The second hospital, the 30,000sq m Leishenshan Hospital, situated in Jiangxia District—a suburban area to the south of the city centre, is due to open February 5 and will provide between 1,300 to 1,500 beds.
“China has a record of getting things done fast even for monumental projects like this,” Council on Foreign Relations senior representative Yanzhong Huang told the BBC.
“This authoritarian country relies on this top down mobilisation approach.
“They can overcome bureaucratic nature and financial constraints and are able to mobilise all of the resources.”
The new hospitals are being over seen by four government-run firms, China Construction Third Engineering Bureau, Wuhan Construction Engineering Group, Wuhan Municipal Engineering Design and Research Institute as well as Wuhan Hanyan Municipal Construction Group.
“We have no technical issues, but we don't have enough time to purchase materials and equipment,” Wuhan Construction deputy manager Zhou Pan told the AP news agency.
Chinese authorities also have plans to build two more hospitals in the nearby city of Huanggang and Zhenzhou, located about 500 kilometres away.