Fangcang Shelter Hospitals in Wuhan, China

A rapid and large-scale public health answer to the COVID-19 pandemic

Like many other cities, the city of Wuhan, China, often referred to as the epicenter of the pandemic, faced severe challenges when being confronted with the outbreak of the virus at the end of 2019 and early 2020. A lack of medical supplies, doctors and nurses, and available beds made it impossible to contain the pandemic in its early stages by the means of traditional hospitals. To isolate COVID-19 cases from the rest of the population quickly and on a large scale, the city of Wuhan developed a novel concept in public health: Fangcang Shelter Hospitals.

During the outbreak of the pandemic in Wuhan, public facilities such as gymnasiums or stadiums were rapidly transformed into health facilities. Within ten days, these new medical shelter hospitals provided the basic functions of isolation, primary health care, disease surveillance and rapid referral, as well as food and shelter. Especially mild and moderate COVID-19 cases were treated and isolated quickly in these shelter hospitals, while severe cases were transported to traditional hospitals. This triage led to an enormous relief of the traditional hospitals and enabled the treatment and isolation of large numbers of patients.

Further, within the new health facilities, medical teams of different disciplines constantly generated new knowledge about the diagnostic and treatment options for COVID-19. These were permanently updated with the help of multidisciplinary collaborations and helped to inform other practitioners in the health sector on the city, national and international level. Through an innovative cloud-based medical service solution, hospitals were further able to provide online health advice.

A total of 16 such shelter hospitals enabled the isolation of thousands of patients within a very short time during the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan. They provided medical treatment and care and fulfilled an important function to relieve the burden on traditional hospitals and to efficiently avoid the spread of the disease. For the future post-epidemic era, psychological counselling of medical staff now plays an equally important role as follow-up research, evaluation and adjustment of processes in the shelter hospitals, so that Wuhan will be even better prepared for challenges to its health system in the future.

Further Information

How do we challenge the Covid-19? - Jun Wang [pdf 2,24 mb]

Event Recording in English and Chinese (Presentation on Wuhan starts min. 6):


Dr. Wang Jun,
Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan,
Huabei Province, P.R. of China

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