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China Builds Virus Hospital in 5 Days  01/16 10:11

   

   BEIJING (AP) -- China on Saturday finished building a 1,500-room hospital 
for COVID-19 patients to fight a surge in infections the government said are 
harder to contain and that it blamed on infected people or goods from abroad.

   The hospital is one of six with a total of 6,500 rooms being built in 
Nangong, south of Beijing in Hebei province, the official Xinhua News Agency 
said.

   China had largely contained the coronavirus that first was detected in the 
central city of Wuhan in late 2019 but has suffered a surge of cases since 
December.

   A total of 645 people are being treated in Nangong and the Hebei provincial 
capital, Shijiazhuang, Xinhua said. A 3,000-room hospital is under construction 
in Shijiazhuang.

   Virus clusters also have been found in Beijing and the provinces of 
Heilongjiang and Liaoning in the northeast and Sichuan in the southwest.

   The latest infections spread unusually fast, the National Health Commission 
said.

   "It is harder to handle," a Commission statement said. "Community 
transmission already has happened when the epidemic is found, so it is 
difficult to prevent."

   The Commission blamed the latest cases on people or goods arriving from 
abroad. It blamed "abnormal management" and "inadequate protection of workers" 
involved in imports but gave no details.

   "They are all imported from abroad. It was caused by entry personnel or 
contaminated cold chain imported goods," said the statement.

   The Chinese government has suggested the disease might have originated 
abroad and publicized what it says is the discovery of the virus on imported 
food, mostly frozen fish, though foreign scientists are skeptical.

   Also Saturday, the city government of Beijing said travelers arriving in the 
Chinese capital from abroad would be required to undergo an additional week of 
"medical monitoring" after a 14-day quarantine but gave no details.

   Nationwide, the Health Commission reported 130 new confirmed cases in the 24 
hours through midnight Friday. It said 90 of those were in Hebei.

   On Saturday, the Hebei government reported 32 additional cases since 
midnight, the Shanghai news outlet The Paper reported.

   In Shijiazhuang, authorities have finished construction of 1,000 rooms of 
the planned hospital, state TV said Saturday. Xinhua said all the facilities 
are due to be completed within a week.

   A similar program of rapid hospital construction was launched by the ruling 
Communist Party at the start of the outbreak last year in Wuhan.

   More than 10 million people in Shijiazhuang underwent virus tests by late 
Friday, Xinhua said, citing a deputy mayor, Meng Xianghong. It said 247 locally 
transmitted cases were found.

   Meanwhile, researchers sent by the World Health Organization were in Wuhan 
preparing to investigate the origins of the virus. The team, which arrived 
Thursday, was under a two-week quarantine but was due to talk with Chinese 
experts by video link.

   The team's arrival was held up for months by diplomatic wrangling that 
prompted a rare public complaint by the head of the WHO.

   That delay, and the secretive ruling party's orders to scientists not to 
talk publicly about the disease, have raised questions about whether Beijing 
might try to block discoveries that would hurt its self-proclaimed status as a 
leader in the anti-virus battle.

 
 
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