China building brand new coronavirus hospital in just five days as cases soar

Hundreds of workers are racing to build a brand new 1,000-bed hospital in just five days in the Chinese city where the coronavirus outbreak began.

Hospitals in Wuhan have been overwhelmed by the crisis, with hundreds of patients arriving every day to be tested.

At least 26 people have been killed so far and more than 800 others have been infected, according to China's official figures, but the toll could be much higher.

Some hospitals have run out of beds – forcing them to set up tents in car parks to treat new patients – and most are running out of supplies, including masks, goggles and suits, as medics are run off their feet.

One video posted on social media in China allegedly shows medics and patients walking around three dead bodies on the floor of a hospital struggling to cope with the crisis.

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The outbreak began late last month in Wuhan, a city of 11million people, and it is believed to have originated at a market that sold live animals, including illegal wildlife, and seafood.

Some experts believe the virus may have been passed from snakes to humans, and the snakes may have been infected by bats.

Wuhan has been locked down, with residents being told to stay put at home while flights out of the city are grounded and train, bus and ferry services are cancelled.

With hospitals and clinics struggling to keep up, Wuhan is building a new 1,000-bed hospital and it wants to open it within six days.

Builders have set the ambitious target of completing the hospital by Monday.

The new hospital is being built around a holiday complex originally intended for local workers, set in gardens by a lake on the outskirts of the city, the official Changjiang Daily reported on Friday.

Prefabricated buildings, which will have 1,000 beds, will be put up, it said.

Building machinery, including 35 diggers and 10 bulldozers, arrived at the site on Thursday night, with the aim to get the new facility ready by Monday, the paper added.

"The construction of this project is to solve the shortage of existing medical resources," the report said.

It added: "Because it will be prefabricated buildings, it will not only be built fast but it also won't cost much."

China State Construction Engineering, one of the companies building the hospital, said on Friday it was "doing all it can and would overcome difficulties" to play its part, adding it now had more than 100 workers on the site.

Images on state television showed a flurry of activity at the muddy building site with dozens of diggers painted in multiple colours hard at work preparing the ground, as a stream of trucks ferried in materials and equipment.

It emerged on Friday that 40 military doctors and nurses have been sent to the intensive care unit at Wuhan's Lung Disease Hospital to help overwhelmed staff.

The new hospital aims to copy the experience of Beijing in 2003, when the city battled Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

As many as 774 people died globally in the SARS epidemic, which reached nearly 30 countries.

At the time, Beijing built the Xiaotangshan hospital in its northern suburbs in just a week. Within two months, it treated one-seventh of all the country's SARS patients, the Changjiang Daily said.

"It created a miracle in the history of medical science," the paper added.

The Beijing hospital, built by 7,000 workers, was originally designed only to take people who were in recovery from SARS to relieve pressure on other hospitals.

In the end it treated nearly 700 SARS patients.

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