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Chinese authorities building two hospitals to cope with outbreak

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Authorities in the Chinese city at the centre of the deadly coronavirus outbreak are building two hospitals for the growing number of patients infected by the disease.

Authorities in the Chinese city at the centre of the deadly coronavirus outbreak are building two hospitals for the growing number of patients infected by the disease.

Wuhan is building the hospitals, one with 1,500 beds and another with 1,000 beds to cope with the almost 28,000 confirmed cases across China.

The first hospital is slated to be finished next Monday, a mere 10 days after the project was started.

The constructing is modelled after the Xiaotangshan SARS hospital in Beijing and will be a prefabricated structure on a 25,000sq/m lot of land.

The deadly virus originated from the Hubei province in China and the death toll currently stands at 80 people.

Construction machinery sits at the site of a field hospital on January 26, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China.

The National Health Commission said 2,744 cases were confirmed overnight. The youngest patient is a nine-month-old girl in Beijing. China also reported five cases in Hong Kong and two in Macao.

South Korea confirmed its fourth today. Scattered cases also have been confirmed in Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, the US, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, France, Canada and Australia.

A 21-year-old woman has become the fifth case of coronavirus in Australia. She had flown to Sydney on flight MU749 on Thursday.

"She travelled on the plane back, a direct flight from Sydney to Wuhan. She was met at the airport, she obviously received the fact sheet that said, 'if you become unwell, attend and seek care, and these are the signs and symptoms'," NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant said today.

She developed symptoms about 24 hours later and when they worsened, she presented to the emergency department.

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There are currently four confirmed cases in New South Wales: the young woman, plus three men aged 53, 43, and 35.

Heavy equipment works at a construction site for a field hospital in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province.

In Victoria there is one confirmed case. Four cases are currently under investigation in Western Australia.

Australian Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said today there is still no evidence of human to human transmission outside the Hubei province in China.

'It was like a horror movie'

Patients waiting for hours in long queues to see a doctor at one existing Wuhan hospital said there are fears those with the virus will infect others before they seek medical help.

"There is no more space, the staff are overwhelmed, there is a shortage of some medicine, and patients are being left to fend for themselves," one patient told AFP.

Another person described there being "many deaths" inside the hospital. He raised concerns the bodies were not properly removed.

"It was like a horror movie," he said.

The National Health Commission said it is bringing in medical teams to help handle the outbreak. The Chinese military dispatched 450 medical staff, some with experience in past outbreaks, including SARS and Ebola.

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The new virus is part of the coronavirus family that includes the common cold but also more severe illnesses like SARS and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

The new virus causes cold- and flu-like symptoms, including cough and fever, and in more severe cases, shortness of breath and pneumonia.

The illness first surfaced last month and the virus is thought to have spread to people from wild animals sold at a food market in Wuhan.

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Trade ban

Chinese authorities have temporarily banned the trade of wild animals and called on the public to refrain from eating wild animal meat.

Across China, 15 cities with a combined population of over 57 million people - more than the entire population of South Korea - have been placed under full or partial lockdown.

Wuhan itself has been effectively quarantined, with all routes in and out of the city closed or highly regulated. The government announced it is sending an additional 1,200 health workers - along with 135 People's Liberation Army medical personnel - to help the city's stretched hospital staff.

China has extended the Lunar New Year holiday to February 2 in an attempt to dissuade people from travelling and spreading the virus further. Almost all mass celebrations for the festival have been cancelled, and authorities have urged people to avoid holding traditional large family gatherings.

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The severity of the emerging crisis is evident in the government's response. The Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party - the country's top political body, headed by President Xi Jinping - has taken direct control of operations. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Wuhan Monday to tour local hospitals, according to state media.

More than $2.3 billion in government funds have been dedicated to the crisis.

David Heymann, the chairman of a World Health Organisation (WHO) committee gathering data on the outbreak, said on Thursday the virus spreads more easily from person to person than previously thought.

"We are now seeing second and third generation spread," Heymann said.

Australia's Health Minister Greg Hunt told national broadcaster ABC Radio today Canberra was working on a plan to bring 100 "young Australians" out of Wuhan.

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"We are working to make sure that there's support for those Australians and that we are there. We are also working on, as are other countries, to try to secure their ability to return to Australia," Hunt said.

Tracing the virus

Since the Wuhan virus was first identified in December, Chinese and international scientists have been studying it intensely, tracking its origin and working on a vaccine to fight it.

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Officials from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Monday that they had successfully isolated the virus in environmental samples taken from a seafood and wildlife market in Wuhan believed to be the source of the outbreak.

Thirty-three of the 585 environmental samples collected from the Wuhan's Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market were found to contain the nucleic acid of the coronavirus, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.

Of those samples, 31 came from the section of the market dedicated to the sale of wild animals, the CDC said.

Chinese authorities announced Sunday that the trading of wild animals would be suspended nationwide, as experts lobbied for the government to put in permanent restrictions or even a ban.

With wires

Source: 9News

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