BEIJING, May 14 (Xinhua) -- The 16 temporary hospitals in Wuhan, the Chinese city hit hardest by the COVID-19 epidemic, have played an important and indispensable role in the prevention and control of the disease, a Chinese health official said Thursday.
During the lockdown of Wuhan, a total of 16 public venues such as exhibition centers and gymnasiums were converted into temporary hospitals to treat patients with mild symptoms and isolate the source of infections amid strained medical resources.
During their operation from Feb. 5 to March 10, over 12,000 patients were admitted and no deaths or nosocomial infections were reported in the facilities, said Song Shuli, a spokesperson for the National Health Commission, at a press conference in Beijing.
Over 8,000 medical workers from across the country had worked in the makeshift hospitals, battling the epidemic along with local medical personnel, according to Song.
After the outbreak of the virus, Wuhan faced mounting pressure in terms of providing enough hospital beds, Song said.
The central authorities made the resolute decision to set up temporary hospitals, she said, adding that the first batch of temporary hospitals was set up within only 29 hours and provided 4,000 beds.
The temporary hospitals are like dams built before the virus further spreads, said Ma Xin, vice president of the Shanghai-based Huashan Hospital of Fudan University, at the press conference.
The 16 temporary hospitals were able to provide about 15,000 beds in total which outnumbered the growth of patients, said Ma, stressing that the temporary hospitals helped to isolate, admit and treat all COVID-19 cases.
Before these hospitals, a large number of confirmed cases were quarantined at home and stayed in their communities, which could easily lead to clustered infections in families and communities, Ma explained.
The temporary hospitals also admitted many mild cases that were transferred from the designated hospitals, leaving more hospital beds for severe cases, said Ma.
"They helped to balance and coordinate the medical resources in Wuhan," he added.
Though the hospitals were converted for temporary use, they provided several basic facilities and necessities for the patients, including washrooms, electric blankets, water dispensers, microwave ovens, and even televisions and radios, said Wang Tao, a medical team leader from Shanghai East Hospital who had supported Wuhan.
Wang added that volunteers provided various forms of guidance, counseling and assistance for the patients, such as organizing book reading activities to help with the patients' mental well-being.
Nursing staff in these hospitals also worked tremendously hard, said Li Hong, a veteran nurse from southeast China's Fujian Provincial Hospital, noting that nearly 70 percent of the medical personnel in Wuhan's temporary hospitals were nurses.
Besides basic nursing work, they also taught patients valuable health knowledge and provided them with psychological assistance, according to Li. Enditem