top top Jan. 23, employees started building the Huoshenshan hospital for COVID-19 patient in Wuhan, China. The photo above was tackled Jan. 30. Construction was done on Feb. 2, and the 1,000-bed hospital opened on Feb. 3. This day it stands north of patients. Stringer/Getty pictures hide caption

on Jan. 23, employees started building the Huoshenshan hospital for COVID-19 patients in Wuhan, China. The photo over was taken on Jan. 30. Building was excellent on Feb. 2, and also the 1,000-bed hospital opened up on Feb. 3. This day it stands empty of patients.

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In February, China pulled turn off an impressive building feat that recorded the world"s attention: between surging situations of COVID-19, China built two hospitals in the pandemic"s epicenter, Wuhan, in under 2 weeks to isolate and treat COVID-19 patients. Consisting largely of prefabricated rooms and components, the two-story frameworks were dubbed "instant hospitals." report on the facilities just as the very first one opened. However now the virus is under control in Wuhan, and life has more or less returned to normal. So, what happened to these "instant hospitals?"

The 1,000-bed Huoshenshan Hospital (meaning Fire God Mountain) opened its doors on Feb. 3. 5 days later, its sisters hospital, Leishenshan (meaning Thunder God Mountain), opened with one more 1,500 beds. Although part reports indicate Leishenshan was slower to fill up than Huoshenshan, follow to Chinese state media, that was shortly operating in ~ near full capacity as well.

"Most news that come out around was state-run news by China, therefore there"s small information top top how reliable they actually were, because there"s a propensity to publicize only the better side the the news," claims Raymond Pan, the style principal in ~ HMC Architects. In 2011, Pan won an award for his design of Shunde Hospital of Southern medical University in China, located where the very first outbreak that SARS happened in 2003. At the inquiry of Chinese wellness officials, his design allows the hospital to quickly isolate any component of the hospital in the event of an infectious condition outbreak.

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Huoshenshan and Leishenshan were among 40 hospitals in Wuhan designated for serious and an important care because that COVID-19 patients. Sixteen various other makeshift hospitals were collection up in convert gyms, convention and also exhibition centers to isolate and also treat gentle cases, for this reason those patients would not infect their families.

A temporary hospital collection up in one exhibition center in Wuhan, China, on Feb. 18. The hospital, one of the dozen the its type in Wuhan, hosts COVID-19 patients through mild symptoms.

Barcroft Media via Getty images

The vigorous initiatives seem to have worked, because just a month later, on march 10, Chinese chairman Xi Jinping claimed that the disease had been "basically curbed" in Wuhan and also its province, Hubei. That day, the 16 makeshift hospitals were every shut down.

Huoshenshan and Leishenshan ongoing operating for an additional month, after which they sent out their final batch of patients to consistent hospitals and were officially sealed off and "retired" ~ above April 15. Follow to state media, Leishenshan finished up treating a complete of 2,011 patients end the two months it to be operational. Federal government officials speak there are no plans to demolish the hospitals yet, and they deserve to be "reactivated at any type of time" if a 2nd wave of epidemic hits.

"Although the wellness workers have actually returned to your workplaces, the equipment and facilities room still over there so that if needed, the workers have the right to be mobilized again and also the hospital have the right to be reopened," states Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for an international health at the council on international Relations.

What wake up after the pandemic is tho unclear, but if the hospitals" predecessor is any indication, no much.

During the 2003 SARS outbreak, China constructed Xiaotangshan Hospital on the outskirts of Beijing in just seven days out of prefabricated components. That hospital is what inspired the "instant hospitals" in Wuhan.

According to Huang and also state media, Xiaotangshan — choose the two in Wuhan — was never ever meant to it is in a totally functioning hospital. Rather, the was developed as a temporary field hospital that wasn"t supposed to last an ext than 3 years. Throughout the outbreak, the admitted one-seventh that the country"s SARS patient over around two month — an approximated 700 individuals. And then, it satellite abandoned.

In 2010, the government announced that the facility would certainly be demolished, yet apparently, the wasn"t "completely demolished," since in January 2020, renovations began to revitalize Xiaotangshan for COVID-19 patients. Again, the service duration didn"t last long — just one and a half months. Through April 29, the hospital was as soon as again closed.

"If there to be any an adverse impact , that wasn"t publicized," claims Pan, yet he has concerns. "Once a structure deteriorates, there are ecological concerns," the says, such as pollution as piece of the building fall personal or possible medical garbage that have the right to contaminate drinking, surface and ground waters if the building isn"t effectively cleaned and sanitized.

Huang claims there to be no reports of any type of medical rubbish leakage or health and wellness hazards if the SARS hospital sat abandoned. "To my knowledge, lock have additionally sterilized come make certain there"s no leakage, so i guess I need to trust their capacity to not make this one more health hazard," the says.

From an metropolitan planning perspective, too, Pan claims the hospitals accounting strategic areas within Wuhan, for this reason if the hospitals space abandoned, it"ll it is in a missed chance to perform something valuable with the sites. If the structures aren"t demolished, he"d choose to check out them converted right into other uses — perhaps a rehab facility or even a museum. "But the problem is: how well to be it developed to be able to withstand longer-term use and conversion?" claims Pan.

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countless have likewise asked even if it is the "instant hospital" model can be embraced by other countries to hit the pandemic. Back prefabricated hospitals are getting popularity, Pan says no one besides China has actually the resources or cost-effective labor to follow suit. It would certainly be "prohibitively expensive" for any type of other country, he says.

Instead, the makeshift hospitals that were converted from existing large buildings have currently been adopted by others. On Aug. 1, Hong Kong opened up its first makeshift hospital in ~ a convention center. Meanwhile, the U.S. Has installed plenty of "pop-up" medical framework in convention centers, parking garages, stadiums, amongst other venues.

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"These were very effective in treating patients , specifically mild cases," claims Huang. "They impede infections the would have actually happened if those patients had been sent home to overfilled living situations."

A worker walks previous bed frames as workers demolish installations at Wuhan"s first makeshift hospital constructed to treat patients infected through COVID-19 in China"s central Hubei district in August. Stringer/AFP via Getty photos hide caption

A worker walks previous bed frames as employees demolish installations in ~ Wuhan"s an initial makeshift hospital built to treat patient infected v COVID-19 in China"s main Hubei province in August.

Stringer/AFP via Getty images

Joanne Lu is a freelance journalist that covers worldwide poverty and inequity. Her occupational has showed up in Humanosphere, The Guardian, Global Washington and also War is Boring. Follow she on Twitter: