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China's coronavirus hospital built in 10 days opens its doors, state media says

Construction of the hospital began Jan. 24 with a crew of 7,000 people working around the clock.

A 1,000-bed hospital built in just 10 days to handle the coronavirus epidemic in Wuhan, China, opened its doors to its first patients Monday.

The Huoshenshan Hospital was built specifically to handle patients infected with the novel coronavirus that has sickened thousands of people and left more than 360 dead. It is on the outskirts of Wuhan, a city with 11 million residents, where the outbreak is believed to have originated.

On Monday, the hospital — which covers 60,000 square meters (645,000 square feet) — welcomed its first patients, according to Chinese state media. There was no information about the patients or their conditions.

Construction began Jan. 24 with a crew of 7,000 people working around the clock. Chinese state media carried live video of the construction site and showed the sheer scale and speed of the project.

A second dedicated hospital with 1,300 beds is also expected to be ready later this week.

Image: Huoshenshan Hospital
Medical equipment at the Huoshenshan temporary field hospital in Wuhan.AP

China's state news agency Xinhua reported Sunday the new hospital has a capacity for 1,000 beds, intensive care units and sections for diagnosis and infection control.

Hundreds of doctors and medical personnel have been drafted in from China's military to treat patients at the hospital, Xinhua also said.

Many of the 1,400 medical specialists have worked in the past to treat severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, which the new coronavirus is related to, and the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone and Liberia, the agency added.

Construction of the Huoshenshan hospital in Wuhan, China, on Jan. 24 and Feb. 2, 2020.
Construction of the Huoshenshan hospital in Wuhan, China, on Jan. 24 and Feb. 2, 2020.AFP - Getty Images

China Central Television on Monday quoted project manager Fang Xiang, whose team worked on the hospital, as saying that a project of this scale usually takes at least two years.

"It takes at least a month to construct a temporary building, not to mention a new hospital for infectious diseases," he said, according to CCTV.

Thousands of workers worked in shifts to complete the construction, CCTV said.

China's state CGTN network showed a video of several workers who said they slept only two hours in three days while completing the construction of the hospital.

It’s not the first time China has had to build a specialized medical facility on a tight deadline. During the SARS epidemic in 2003, a hospital in Beijing was constructed in just a week.

Wuhan has been on lockdown for nearly two weeks with millions of its inhabitants barred from leaving the city. The Chinese government has not yet signaled when the lockdown could be lifted.