Beijing has officially started to use the Xiaotangshan Hospital, which was used solely for SARS patients in 2003 and COVID-19 cases in 2020, on Sunday, in a bid to contain the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the city, said a senior official of the municipal government.
"The hospital's reconstruction and buildings of new inpatient areas were already completed in advance and it currently can provide 1,200 beds," said Li Ang, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Health Commission, at a news conference on Sunday.
According to the commission, the hospital has nine quarantine units and each unit has three floors. The medical treatment facilities, testing labs and image examination equipment, as well as the facilities for disinfection and sewage disposal, have all passed acceptance inspection.
"At present, the first quarantine unit has been put into use. 40 medical workers, including eight doctors, 30 nurses and two hospital-acquired infection control professionals, have started working," Li said. "More medical staff members from 19 other hospitals in Beijing will join the medical work in the hospital gradually based on the epidemic condition in the following days."
There are now 12 COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms in the hospital.
On Saturday, Li announced that Beijing has completed construction of makeshift hospitals, also called fangcang, which can provide 4,000 beds in total for COVID-19 patients.
"Meanwhile, the city is planning to build more large-scale makeshift hospitals and the authority is looking for suitable locations with enough space," he said.
Some districts in Beijing have also started work on location hunting for new makeshift hospitals or are choosing existing buildings that are fit to work as fangcang.
Li said the preparation is aimed at providing space for patients with light symptoms and asymptomatic carriers, as that can swiftly cut virus transmission and reduce impact on medical resources of other hospitals during the epidemic.
He said there was no need for panic and Beijing doesn't have that many cases at present.
In January 2020, Beijing started rebuilding Xiaotangshan Hospital, as a preparation for fight against the COVID-19 epidemic.
As the world's largest medical complex devoted to SARS patients, it was built in only six days in April 2003.