China’s first dedicated coronavirus hospital has opened in a city near Wuhan after workers and volunteers spent just two days converting an empty building to a 1,000-bed emergency facility.
The first batch of coronavirus patients were transferred to the Dabie Mountain Regional Medical Centre in Huanggang at around 10:30pm local time on Tuesday.
The extra capacity will be crucial for overwhelmed medical staff in Hubei, the locked-down province at the centre of the crisis.
Another hospital is being purpose-built from scratch in Wuhan 47 miles (75km) away and is expected to be completed later this week after just a week of construction.
More than 6,000 people around the world are now confirmed to have been infected with the Wuhan coronavirus and 132 have died in China.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has become the latest country to declare cases – an unknown number among a family travelling from China – and Germany has now diagnosed four people with the infection.
Germany also yesterday revealed it had hosted the first human-to-human transmission in Europe, between a German man and a woman travelling from China.
The latest developments in the Wuhan coronavirus crisis include:
- Germany has declared a further three infections, bringing its total to four
- Australia has confirmed its sixth and seventh cases, with two in Victoria state
- British Airways has cancelled all flights between London and China
- The UK Foreign Office advises against all but necessary travel to China
- US and Japan officials have airlifted citizens out of the crisis-hit Hubei province
- Infections in the UAE mark the first time the virus has spread to the Middle East
- Scientists yesterday said Bangkok is the non-Chinese city most at risk of the virus
The hospital building in the city’s Huangzhou District was originally built as a new branch of Huanggang Central Hospital and expected to open in May.
But on Friday, the local authority ordered the complete but empty building to be used for treating coronavirus patients only and began preparations on Saturday.
By Monday, all of the beds had been set up by volunteers and water, electricity and internet had also been installed, according to the government of Huanggang.
More than 500 workers and a dozen heavy vehicles worked two days and nights in order to complete the task on time.
Situated 47 miles (75 km) south-west of Wuhan, Huanggang has a population of around 7.5million and is one of the cities hit hardest by coronavirus.
It went into lockdown last Thursday, the same day as Wuhan, and has seen at least 213 confirmed cases and four deaths.
Much of the Hubei province, which contains both of the cities, now has no public transport and limited road traffic.
Anyone from the province who does manage to leave is likely to be turned away or quarantined at their destination – many, such as Hong Kong, are banning visitors from Wuhan, while the UK has told anyone travelling out of the area to isolate themselves at home.
Governments around the world are taking drastic measures as fears of international spread continue to grow.
Yesterday it was revealed that patients in Germany, Japan and Vietnam had all contracted the coronavirus without even travelling to China.
This added a new dimension to the outbreak’s danger because the third-hand spread – catching it from someone else who had been to China – had not been proven.
The development means everyone who has been in contact with someone who has travelled to China’s Hubei province could be at risk, rather than just the travellers themselves.
If the person-to-person spread continues this could extend to people who only met the person who met the traveller, and so on, widening the web of potential infection.
The first German patient, a man who caught the coronavirus from a woman who travelled from Shanghai after visiting relatives from Wuhan, was last night confirmed to have infected a further three people, bringing Germany’s total to four.
They became ill in spite of a third-degree separation from Wuhan. The Chinese woman had not even known she was ill until she was on the flight home.
Australia has today confirmed its sixth case in a 44-year-old Chinese woman from the city of Wuhan. She is stable and in isolation at Gold Coast University Hospital.