World Neighbours 05 Mar 2020 More empty beds, few ...

More empty beds, fewer patients in Coronavirus epicentre Wuhan

Published Mar 5, 2020, 4:53 pm IST
Updated Mar 5, 2020, 4:53 pm IST
Wuhan doctor recounts fears and hope at virus frontline
A man visiting a hospital in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on March 4 2020 (AFP)
 A man visiting a hospital in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on March 4 2020 (AFP)

Beijing: One month after makeshift hospitals opened to chaos and confusion at the epicentre of China's coronavirus epidemic, frontline doctor Ma Yonggang is finally seeing more empty beds as fewer patients arrive.

When 43-year-old Ma was first summoned to a sports stadium converted into a medical facility on February 4, it was a virtual construction site with electrical wiring and beds still being installed.


Separated from his wife and young child who had returned to eastern Shandong province for Lunar New Year, Ma said he felt “scared and anxious” when the call from the jury-rigged Wuchang hospital came in the middle of the night.

But the situation has slowly improved, with the number of patients receiving treatment in the improvised hospital declining from a high of 760 in mid-February to 320 earlier this week.

"We had 30-40 patients being discharged per day, but the number of patients admitted was only a dozen or so. This was when the whole situation changed for us."
Ma Yonggang, hospital's Deputy director


Hastily converted from sports stadiums, schools and cultural venues, Wuhan's 16 makeshift “ark” hospitals were designed to ease the burden on the city's overstretched healthcare system.

But in the early stages of the outbreak, they also suffered from the same widespread shortages of medical protective supplies as the city's designated hospitals, Ma said.

The hospitals offer basic treatment and diagnosis for patients with mild to moderate symptoms, as well as simple recreational facilities.

More than 80,000 people have been infected and more than 3,000 killed by the new coronavirus in mainland China, with the majority in Wuhan.


Chinese health authorities and a team of World Health Organization experts say that at least 3,000 Chinese medical workers have caught the virus  mostly in Wuhan and at least 11 have lost their lives.

But according to Ma, none of the medical workers at the city's makeshift hospitals have been infected.