Coronavirus: Wuhan keeps temporary hospital as a model

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China swiftly built dozens of makeshift hospitals to deal with its coronavirus bed crunch. We take a look inside one.
The Dongxihu temporary hospital in Hubei, China, one of several public facilities that were converted overnight into temporary medical facilities. ST PHOTO: ELIZABETH LAW

While Wuhan shut all 16 of its temporary hospitals by early March, the infrastructure of one - the Dongxihu Fangcang Hospital - remains.

Though the coronavirus outbreak in the city has eased for now, the pandemic is ongoing, said Dongxihu chief Zhang Junjian.

"Some people feel that this temporary hospital is a model and a standard to meet," Professor Zhang told journalists during a tour of the facility. "The way the hospital was organised and managed, the way it was run, and the reasonable results of treatment, people want to come to do field studies," he added.

Faced with an acute shortage of hospital beds at the height of the coronavirus outbreak, the local authorities converted public facilities like sports stadiums, gymnasiums and exhibition centres into mass holding facilities which could hold thousands of patients.

Patients with milder symptoms were housed there and were looked after by some 79 reinforcement medical teams from all over China.

According to the official Xinhua news agency, over 12,000 patients were treated at these hospitals.

Of these, some 1,700 were at the Dongxihu facility in the one month it was open. At its height, it had 1,400 patients.

The facility used a mix of Western and traditional Chinese medicine, said Prof Zhang, adding that counselling and psychological support was also a key component.

"Some of the patients, they were very down after getting the disease because they felt they had been separated from their families and loved ones, so we had to give them psychological support and treatment too."

Several countries, including the United States, Britain and Malaysia, have all built temporary hospitals to house milder cases to free up hospital beds for more serious cases.

The Singapore Expo has also been prepared in a similar manner.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2020, with the headline Coronavirus: Wuhan keeps temporary hospital as a model. Subscribe