China's virus-hit Wuhan creates more hospitals as demand for beds surges

BEIJING (Reuters) - The Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, is converting an additional eight buildings, including gymnasiums, exhibition centers and sports centers, into hospitals, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday.

The latest announcement adds to plans revealed earlier this week to convert three other venues in the city into hospitals. Once all 11 buildings are converted, a process that is expected to be completed later on Wednesday, they will be able to accommodate 10,000 patients.

A specially constructed hospital in Wuhan, designed with 1,000 beds, opened to patients on Monday, while the building of a second hospital, with 1,600 beds, is also scheduled to be completed on Wednesday.

Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, reported 49 new deaths on Tuesday, taking the city’s death toll from the virus to 362 people. New confirmed cases in Wuhan surged by 1,967 on Tuesday, up from 1,242 on Monday.

In the wider Hubei province, deaths had risen by 65 to 479 as of Tuesday, Chinese state television reported on Wednesday. There were a further 3,156 cases detected, taking the total in the province to 16,678.

Reporting by Ryan Woo; editing by Jane Wardell