BEIJING — China announced Friday that it is swiftly building a 1,000-bed hospital dedicated to patients infected with a new virus that has killed 26 people, sickened hundreds and prompted unprecedented lockdowns of cities during the country’s most important holiday.
On the eve of the Lunar New Year, transportation was shut down in at least 13 cities home to more than 36 million people. The cities are Wuhan, where the illness has been concentrated, and 12 of its neighbors in central China’s Hubei province.
“To address the insufficiency of existing medical resources,” Wuhan is constructing a hospital modeled after the Xiaotangshan SARS hospital in Beijing, Wuhan authorities said in a Friday notice. The facility will be a prefabricated structure on a 25,000- square-meter (270,000-square-foot) lot, slated for completion Feb. 3.
Hospitals in Wuhan were grappling with a flood of patients and a lack of supplies. Videos circulating online showed throngs of frantic people in masks lined up for checks. Some users on the Weibo social media site said their family members had sought diagnoses but were turned away at hospitals that were at capacity.
At least eight hospitals in Wuhan issued public calls for donations of masks, goggles, gowns and other protective medical gear, according to notices online. Administrators at Wuhan University People’s Hospital set up a group chat on the popular WeChat messaging app to coordinate donations.
The “Fever Control Command Center” of the city of Huanggang also put out a call for donations publicized by the state-run People’s Daily, asking for medical supplies, medicine and disinfection equipment. The notice added that at the moment they wouldn’t accept supplies from foreign countries.