China boasted that it built two new coronavirus hospitals in 12 days - but they're treating half the people they're supposed to

It was probably China's biggest propaganda coup of the coronavirus outbreak: announcing and building two complete new hospitals in a timeframe that was almost incomprehensible in the West.

Chinese state media live-streamed frantic construction efforts as first the Huoshenshan and then the Leishenshan hospitals sprung up out of nowhere, the first built in 10 days and the second in 12.

They were to provide sorely-needed new beds for victims of the outbreak: 1,000 at Huoshenshan and 1,600 at Leishenshan.

The official Xinhua news agency called the quick turnaround "Mission Impossible made possible." Cameras toured the fresh-built facilities and noted that patients were being moved in already.

However, official data shows that the actual usefulness of the hospitals has yet to match the pace or spectacle of their construction, with the facilities running at less than half their projected 2,600 capacity.

Here is a graph showing the number of occupied beds reported each day by local officials:

Wuhan new hospital beds graphBusiness Insider/Google

 

This chart shows the raw figures:

 

DateLeishenshan BedsHuoshenshan Beds
Feb 200
Feb 3050
Feb 4045
Feb 5076
Feb 6086
Feb 7086
Feb 830286
Feb 985382
Feb 1088803
Feb 1190924
Feb 121231,013
CAPACITY1,6001,000

 

Overall, both hospitals only had 1,136 beds occupied out of a possible 2,600 beds available by February 12 — less than half of the patients they are eventually meant to treat.

It is not clear what is responsible for the mismatch between the hospitals' notional capacity and the reality.

According to The Guardian, elsewhere in the city there is a dire shortage of space, with exhibition centers and sports halls being converted into makeshift medical sites.

The virus has killed at least 1,360 people and infected more than 60,000 worldwide. The majority of the cases have been recorded in the Hubei province, where Wuhan is the largest city.

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A traveler wears a face mask as he sits in a waiting room at the Beijing West Railway Station in Beijing, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. A fourth person has died in an outbreak of a new coronavirus in China, authorities said Tuesday, as more places stepped up medical screening of travelers from the country as it enters its busiest travel period. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
A girl wearing a face mask sits among suitcases at Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Face masks sold out and temperature checks at airports and train stations became the new norm as China strove Tuesday to control the outbreak of a new coronavirus that has reached four other countries and territories and threatens to spread further during the Lunar New Year travel rush. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Travelers wearing face masks gather at Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Face masks sold out and temperature checks at airports and train stations became the new norm as China strove Tuesday to control the outbreak of a new coronavirus that has reached four other countries and territories and threatens to spread further during the Lunar New Year travel rush. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Staff in biohazard suits hold a metal stretcher by the in-patient department of Wuhan Medical Treatment Center, where some infected with a novel coronavirus are being treated, in Wuhan, China, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Heightened precautions were being taken in China and elsewhere Tuesday as governments strove to control the outbreak of the coronavirus, which threatens to grow during the Lunar New Year travel rush. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)
Peatones con máscaras de protección en una zona comercial de Tokio, el jueves 16 de enero de 2020. (AP Foto/Eugene Hoshiko)
Health workers wear protective gear Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2003, in Ward E3 of the Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital in Hong Kong's New Territories, where 24 patients were quarantined after seven of its health workers developed flu-like symptoms, although none have tested positive for SARS. According to a hospital spokesperson five nurses and two health care assistants working in the hospital's Ward E3 developed symptoms such as coughs, sore throats and fevers on Friday. Hong Kong's health chief, Dr.Yeoh Eng-kiong, said that preliminary test results showed patients' samples did not contain coronavirus that causes SARS and researchers are trying to identify the cause of the illness. (AP Photo/Anat Givon)
WUHAN, CHINA - JANUARY 21 2020: Workers monitor screens for fever signs on passengers detected by infrared detectors at Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. A new type of coronavirus has infected hundreds of people in the city.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Feature China / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Feature China / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
WUHAN, CHINA - JANUARY 21 2020: Passengers wearing protective masks walk inside Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. A new type of coronavirus has infected hundreds of people in the city.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Feature China / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Feature China / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
WUHAN, CHINA - JANUARY 21 2020: Passengers wearing protective masks walk outside Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. A new type of coronavirus has infected hundreds of people in the city.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Feature China / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Feature China / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
WUHAN, CHINA - JANUARY 21 2020: Passengers wearing protective masks walk inside Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. A new type of coronavirus has infected hundreds of people in the city.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Feature China / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Feature China / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - JANUARY 21: Chinese travellers wear protective masks as they arrive to board trains at Beijing Railway station before the annual Spring Festival on January 21, 2020 in Beijing, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to nearly 300 in mainland China Tuesday as health officials stepped up efforts to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts confirmed can be passed from human to human. The number of those who have died from the virus in China climbed to six on Tuesday and cases have been reported in other parts of Asia including in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
YICHANG, CHINA - JANUARY 21 2020: Travelers wearing protective masks walk outside a railway station in Yichang in central China's Hubei province Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. China has stepped up the measures to control the spread of the new coronavirus that has infected hundreds of people in China.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Feature China / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Feature China / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - JANUARY 21: A Chinese girl wears a protective mask as her mother pushes her on a suitcase to board a train at Beijing Railway station before the annual Spring Festival on January 21, 2020 in Beijing, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to nearly 300 in mainland China Tuesday as health officials stepped up efforts to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts confirmed can be passed from human to human. The number of those who have died from the virus in China climbed to six on Tuesday and cases have been reported in other parts of Asia including in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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On Thursday, Hubei officials reported an enormous spike in cases, reporting 14,840 extra infections.

Earlier this month, officials said that major hospitals had to turn away patients because they were lacking beds and adequate medical resources. 

"The medical resources in Wuhan, especially the ICU team, are not enough to deal with this severe treatment," Jiang Rongmeng, a member of the Chinese National Health Commission's team, said earlier this month, according to The Wall Street Journal

State news agency Xinhua said on Wednesday that the number of designated hospitals in Wuhan treating coronavirus patients has risen to 40. The two new hospitals, it said, would be used to treat patients in severe or critical condition. 

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