Chinese city Wuhan has built two dedicated hospitals, converted more than a dozen sports halls and set up 132 quarantine stations in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
But the emergency facilities, which have more than 25,870 beds in total, are not enough to keep confirmed and suspected patients of the disease which has killed 638 people.
Local officials have ordered construction workers to set up many more makeshift wards ‘as fast as possible’ after Beijing this week demanded the city round up all confirmed and potential sufferers and put them in mass quarantine camps.
The city’s government today instructed four universities to be turned into isolation centres with a total of 5,400 beds.
While leaders of Hubei Province, of which Wuhan is the capital, last week directed that all hotels, hostels and empty factories should be prepared to be transformed into quarantine stations.
Wuhan has around 14 million residents, according to its Mayor Zhou Xianwang.
Nine million residents are currently in the city, which went into lockdown 16 days ago, and five million people had already left by then, Mr Zhou revealed.
Workers in Wuhan already constructed two hospitals from scratch in the space of two weeks: 1,000-bed Huoshenshan Hospital and 1,600-bed Leishenshan Hospital.
This week, they started to install temporary wards in more than a dozen sports halls and exhibition centres.
These facilities, dubbed ‘fang cang’ or ‘shelter’ hospitals, would bring some 10,700 more beds to those in need.
Official Xinhua News Agency reported that 20 more fang cang hospitals were due to be built, but did not explain how many beds they were expected to have.
Authorities had also established 132 mass quarantine camps with 12,571 in total by Tuesday, according to a government notice.
So far, most Wuhan residents have been under self-quarantine at home. But due to the fact that most apartments laced basic protective measures and medical equipment, many family members of suspected patients became infected in the process, an official commentary claimed.
The strict quarantine regulation came as the Communist Party was blasted by furious Chinese citizens who accused it of covering up the death of a whistle-blower of the deadly disease.
Dr Li Wenliang, a medic in Wuhan, died of the coronavirus after catching the virus from a patient. He had been punished by police for sending warnings of ‘SARS at a Wuhan market’ on social media.
State media Global Times reported about his death last night before quickly removing the post without an explanation.
The hospital which was treating Dr Li was quick to deny the reports, and finally pronounced his death in the wee hours today.
Many Chinese web users believed the government was hiding Dr Li’s passing from the public out of fear of an uproar. They said officials only dared to reveal the truth ‘after everyone had gone to bed’.
The coronavirus epidemic has so far claimed more than 630 lives and infected more than 31,520 people in 28 countries and territories around the world – but 99 per cent of infections have been in China.
The outbreak has prompted the World Health Organization to declare a global health emergency, several governments to impose travel restrictions, and airlines to suspend flights to and from China.
China’s National Health Commission reported 73 new deaths and 3,143 confirmed cases overnight.