A construction expert broke down how China built an emergency hospital to treat Wuhan coronavirus patients in just 10 days

Wuhan hospital
  • The city of Wuhan in China completed a makeshift emergency hospital to treat patients infected with the coronavirus in just 10 days.
  • The emergency medical facility is made up of two floors and has several isolation wards and 30 intensive care units. It can hold up to 1,000 patients.
  • Business Insider spoke to a construction expert, who said that using prefabricated units is the key to constructing a building at such a fast speed.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
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On Sunday, China finished building an emergency hospital set up specifically to tackle the Wuhan coronavirus. It only took 10 days.

The 645,000-square-foot makeshift medical facility, which took in its first patients on Monday, is made up of two floors and is already equipped with 1,000 beds, several isolation wards, and 30 intensive care units.
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Pictures of the construction first emerged on January 23 on social media, showing dozens of bulldozers and excavators rushing to level the ground.

In the days that followed, an online live stream was set up for people to follow the construction progress.

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Wuhan Huoshenshan hospital before-and-after.

But how did China manage to construct a hospital in just 10 days?

Using prefabricated units is the key to constructing a building at such a fast speed, according to David Hartley, managing director of engineering company NTX, which also focuses on hospital construction in the UK.

"Instead of first building the foundation and then following up with the superstructure (ie. the steel frame, the building, and the cladding), prefabricated units allow the construction of the foundation and the building envelope to take place in parallel."So the pre-fabricated element, which would be the Lego blocks that you would can see being craned in, are actually fabricated off-site in a factory at the same time the foundations are being prepared on-site."
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The panic-built Huoshenshan hospital was also modeled on the blueprints of a medical facility which was set up in Beijing in 2003 to help tackle the SARS epidemic, which also helped speed up the construction process, according to Quartz.

Wuhan hospital
Chinese state media has also given a lot of credit to the more than 7,500 laborers, who worked around the clock to construct the hospital.
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Online footage by CGNT, shows workers saying: "We have been working here for nine days. We have only slept for two hours in three days."

But many still appeared happy to lend their help. In the same CGNT footage, another worker said: "When disaster strikes help comes from all sides. I am a Wuhan resident. It is my duty to protect my hometown."

 
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Robert Yates, an internationally-recognized expert on universal health coverage (UHC) said at a press conference on Tuesday that the rapid speed at which the hospital was built can be "can be a lesson to many."

"In situations like this, you need the state to step in. A privately-financed health system would never achieve something like this. So it is a great advertisement for a publicly-financed health system," Yates said.

China is also building a second hospital just 25 miles away from Huoshenshan, which will also be dedicated to the treatment of coronavirus patients and is scheduled to accept its first patients on Wednesday.
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More than 30,000 people have now been infected with the virus globally. The number of fatalities has risen to 492, Chinese authorities said Wednesday.

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