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The trucks, earthmoving equipment and building work in full swing at the construction site of two special hospitals in Wuhan, Hubei province, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
On Jan 24, the Wuhan government announced it would build a 1,000-bed infirmary, named Huoshenshan, or "Fire God Mountain", Hospital, to treat people diagnosed with the virus. The first building of the complex, which will eventually cover 25,000 square meters, was completed in just 16 hours.
The city also announced construction of a 1,500-bed facility－Leishenshan, or "Thunder God Mountain", Hospital－to ease the shortage of beds for coronavirus patients.
Huoshenshan is scheduled to come into operation on Monday and Leishenshan will follow three days later.
As workers rushed to build the units at "Chinese speed", medical professionals and designers said they would ensure the facilities were safe and reliable, despite the race against time.
In 2003, as head of Beijing's Xiaotangshan Hospital, Zhang Yanling saw an emergency facility built from scratch in just seven days to help contain an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in the capital.
Last week, the 68-year-old traveled to Wuhan as an advisor on the construction of the two prefabricated hospitals.
Having gained great experience of medical wastewater disposal during more than 10 years in the field, he said the Wuhan project is the biggest challenge of his career. That's because disposal systems on this scale normally take at least 60 days to complete, but this time the work will have to be finished within 10 days.
"As we are facing a totally new virus, we have to be careful and we have to come up with our best plan," he said.
The National Development and Reform Commission has allocated a special grant of 300 million yuan ($43 million) for the two facilities, according to a notice posted on its website on Monday.
The technical drawings for the two new Wuhan hospitals were drawn up in just 60 hours by a team of 60 designers, including experts who worked on Xiaotangshan Hospital. Every piece of work in the project is counted in hours, not days.
Xia Ping, general director of construction for both hospitals, said that despite the time constraints, every effort is being made to ensure construction quality.
He added that the builders are racing against time, but they are not neglecting crucial details, such as cleaning and sterilization work.
While Wuhan is scrambling to build new hospitals, authorities in three other cities－in the provinces of Hubei and Henan, and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region－have also begun constructing similar facilities to relieve pressure on the overwhelmed healthcare system.
With our virus-fighting spirit, Wuhan and other cities will definitely recover soon.
Contact Person: Ms. Linda Xu