In Wuhan, construction workers have become celebrities as their race to build two brand new hospitals in a week for victims of the coronavirus is live-streamed on Chinese TV.
Chinese state media reported this week that viewing figures on the live stream rose as high as 40 million. Chinese authorities have created two separate streams from the Huoshenshan and Leishenshan hospitals since work began on January 23 and 25 respectively.
China's Central Television (CCTV) said 40% of the construction work on one of the two hospitals, Leishenshan Hospital, has been completed and will be finished on 5 February, as planned. Huoshenshan Hospital will be completed on 2 January, according to CCTV.
It isn't the first time China has built a hospital in a week. In 2003, the Xiaotangshan Hospital in Beijing was constructed in just seven days to treat victims of the SARS virus, which swept the country. That facility is still in existence, and Chinese authorities are now considering re-opening it.
It’s not just people in China who are observing the work. From architects to healthcare professionals to the authorities in other countries, many hope to see what lessons can be learned in quickly building emergency response centres in the event of outbreaks or natural disasters.
Erin Peavey, an architect and design researcher at HKS in Texas, says that rather than being hospitals, the Huoshenshan and Leishenshan facilities are better referred to as triage centres. But the project is no less important for the future of healthcare design.
“This is a definite experiment and I hope people are watching it closely not just to praise or critique but to learn. I have a ton of questions. What becomes our template for this and what are some of the successes in treating a large population in immediate need,” she said.