/Coronavirus: China set to open speed-built hospital – BBC News

Coronavirus: China set to open speed-built hospital – BBC News

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Media captionAerial time-lapse shows Wuhan hospital construction

China is set to open a new hospital in the city at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak, as the numbers of people infected continue to grow.

Wuhan’s 1,000-bed Huoshenshan Hospital, built in just eight days, is one of two dedicated facilities being constructed to help tackle the outbreak.

China is struggling to deal with the virus, with more than 17,000 confirmed cases and 361 deaths.

Sunday saw the first confirmed fatality outside China, in the Philippines.

The patient was a 44-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan who appeared to have been infected before arriving in the Philippines.

Many countries have barred foreigners arriving from China and are quarantining their own citizens.

Latest figures from China’s National Health Commission on Monday revealed that, alongside the confirmed cases, there were:

  • 21,558 suspected cases
  • 152,700 people “under medical watch”
  • 475 people discharged from hospital

There have been more than 150 confirmed cases of the virus outside China.

Hospitals in the province of Hubei – where Wuhan is located – are reportedly overwhelmed and struggling to treat the growing number of patients.

Meanwhile, hospital workers in Hong Kong are preparing to go on strike from Monday unless the territory’s border with mainland China is completely closed.

The territory’s authorities have refused to do this, citing World Health Organization recommendations to introduce screening at borders rather than closing them.

The number of coronavirus cases worldwide has overtaken that of the similar Sars epidemic, which spread to more than two dozen countries in 2003.

But the mortality rate of the new virus is much lower, suggesting it is not as deadly.

What do we know about the new hospital?

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EPA

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Military medical staff will be running the new hospital

Chinese state media reported on Sunday that construction of the new Huoshenshan hospital had been completed, and that it would open on Monday.

Local TV reports said 1,400 Chinese army medical staff, some with experience of infectious diseases, were arriving in Wuhan and being transferred to the new site.

A second hospital at Leishenshan is due to be finished on Wednesday.

What’s it like in hospitals in Hubei?

Hospitals in the province are reportedly understaffed and overburdened, as the number of infections rises sharply.

According to the Washington Post, some hospital workers have begun wearing nappies because they don’t have time to use the bathroom in between treating patients.

Hospitals are also dealing with a shortage of medical supplies. The Wuhan Children’s Hospital posted on social media: “Medical supplies are in short supply – help!”

Videos on social media showed long queues outside hospitals.

In one video, a man with a Wuhan accent at a local hospital said it could take “as long as 10 hours” for patients to be seen by a doctor.

Could the number of cases be higher?

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Media captionThe BBC’s online health editor on what we know about the virus

Estimates by the University of Hong Kong suggest the total number of cases could be far higher than the official figures.

More than 75,000 people may have been infected in the city of Wuhan, which is at the epicentre of the outbreak, experts say.

On Sunday, the government said it would pump more than $170bn (£128bn) into the economy as concern grows about the wider impact of the epidemic.

Wuhan is in lockdown and other major cities across the country have suspended non-essential business.

Which countries are restricting arrivals?

The US and Australia have said they will deny entry to all foreign visitors who have recently been to China, where the 2019-nCov strain of the coronavirus first emerged in December.

Other countries including Russia, Japan, Pakistan and Indonesia have also announced travel restrictions.

New Zealand announced on Monday that it would also block travellers who have been through mainland China.

On Sunday, South Korea said it would bar entry to foreigners who had recently visited Hubei.

In the US, citizens and residents returning from Hubei will be quarantined for 14 days. Those returning from other parts of China will be allowed to monitor their own condition for a similar period.

The Pentagon said it would provide housing for 1,000 people who may need to be quarantined after arriving from abroad.

Australia said any of its own citizens arriving from China would also be quarantined for two weeks.

There have also been a number of evacuations from China as foreign governments work to bring their citizens back.

Do the travel bans work?

Global health officials have advised against the bans.

“Travel restrictions can cause more harm than good by hindering info-sharing, medical supply chains and harming economies,” the head of the WHO said on Friday.

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Media captionInside the US laboratory developing a coronavirus vaccine

The WHO recommends introducing screening at official border crossings. It has warned that closing borders could accelerate the spread of the virus, with travellers entering countries unofficially.

China has criticised the wave of travel restrictions, accusing foreign governments of ignoring official advice.