Wuhan (China) (AFP)
Hundreds of workers, a noria of backhoes ... and thermometers to detect viral pneumonia. On the outskirts of Wuhan, the construction of a hospital with a thousand beds has everything against the clock.
"We have to go quickly to fight the epidemic," said a worker in his thirties, who prefers not to give his name.
In a city de facto in quarantine since Thursday, he explains working nine hours a day "sometimes more, sometimes less, it depends on the needs".
In the city at the epicenter of the new coronavirus, hospitals are overwhelmed by the influx of patients, suffering from pneumonia or simply dreading it.
The authorities have therefore launched the construction of two additional hospitals, which must be completed in record time.
According to public media, construction of the first site started on Friday and will end on February 3. The establishment, baptized "Hospital of the god of fire", a deity propitious against diseases, will occupy an area of 25,000 m2.
A second 1,300-bed hospital is to be built within two weeks. He is dedicated to the "god of lightning".
- "Come on Wuhan!" -
The two hospitals will exclusively receive victims of the new coronavirus.
About twenty kilometers southwest of the city center, the site stands on the edge of a two-lane two-lane road, one traffic direction of which is completely cut off to make room for dozens of delivery and delivery trucks. earth-moving machinery.
"Come on Wuhan!" can we read on a banner hanging from the front of a truck, echoing a rallying cry that has taken hold of the city since it was cut off from the world.
Behind the palisades, an anthill of backhoe load trucks of earth while bulldozers level the ground of the future hospital, where the first patients are expected to arrive in a week.
Technicians are busy installing electricity, others 5G antennas. Still others install the water drainage pipes.
Residential buildings rise nearby.
Workers, transported by coach, must submit to a temperature control when they return to their resting place, on the other side of the road. A guard with an electronic thermometer tests their forehead temperature in seconds.
- 24 hour rotations -
China had already built a hospital in Beijing in record time - a week - during the deadly epidemic of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in 2003. It brought together prefabricated buildings.
According to the new China agency, the new hospital built in Wuhan is designed on the same model.
An official from one of the construction companies told the agency that he "mobilized all the workers remaining in Wuhan," when many had already left the city because of the Chinese New Year holidays.
They "work in shifts to provide 24 hour construction work," he said.
But "going fast does not mean forgetting the quality," said Premier Li Keqiang on Monday while visiting Wuhan. The hospital will "have to protect against contamination," he said, according to remarks reported by Radio Hubei.
According to the government, the budget for building and equipping the two hospitals is 300 million yuan (39 million euros).
Mr. Zang, a worker who arrived three days ago from a neighboring province, told AFP that his work would also be finished in three days.
In a city traumatized by the virus, he says he is not afraid of anything: on the construction site, "there are no sick people", he observes. "They are all in the hospital."
© 2020 AFP