The 1,600-bed Wuhan coronavirus hospital that China panic-built in a few days is less than half full 11 days after it opened

mjankowicz@businessinsider.com (Mia Jankowicz)
  • One of two hastily-constructed Wuhan hospitals meant to help handle the surging number of coronavirus patients was less than half full on Tuesday, according to official figures.
  • Leishenshan hospital is meant to have a capacity of 1,600 beds, but has yet to fill them. 746 beds are full according to the latest figures. 
  • The relatively slow uptake is a contrast with its construction, which was live-streamed by state media and stunned the world with its speed.
  • Its sister hospital, Huoshenshan, is now operating at around its 1,000-bed capacity.
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The spectacle of the high-speed construction of two brand new hospitals in less than 12 days in Wuhan was a PR coup for the Chinese government.

But one of these is still less than half full, according to official figures released 11 days after it opened.

The Leishenshan hospital is the second of two facilities built by the Chinese government at the epicenter of the outbreak.

It is meant to provide 1,600 extra beds for the city, which has had its regular medical facilities comprehensively overwhelmed.

However, as of Tuesday only 746 beds are filled, around 47% of its capacity.

This photo taken on January 22, 2020 shows medical staff members wearing protective suits at the Zhongnan hospital in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province.

STR/AFP via Getty Images

The other hospital, Huoshenshan, opened six days earlier, and had 1,021 beds occupied, roughly in line with its announced capacity of 1,000.

Figures, reviewed by Business Insider, show that Huoshenshan reached this figure on its tenth day of operation. Leishenshan has been slower to fill, both in absolute terms and as a proportion of its capacity.

Prior to their opening, in January patients were facing hours-long queues to be seen by medics, according to the BBC.

As of February 12, 3,972 patients were being treated in temporary hospitals in converted gyms and exhibition centres, according to the state news agency Xinhua.

It is unclear why some of these were not treated at Leishenshan 's brand-new facilities.

The frantic pace of the hospitals' construction – Huoshenshan in 10 days and Leishenshan in 12 – was livestreamed to an amazed global audience by Chinese state media.

Still from a video showing the rapid building of two hospitals in Wuhan.

YouTube/CGTN

Aerial footage showed bulldozers preparing ground while a later video toured Leishenshan's newly-built interiors and the brand-new equipment destined to be used inside.

Huoshenshan's construction was dubbed "Mission Impossible made possible" by the state news agency Xinhua.

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