As workers race to build two new makeshift hospitals within ten days in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province and the epicenter of the deadly 2019-nCoV’s outbreak, over 50 million Chinese are watching the live stream of the construction via state-owned broadcaster CCTV’s app.
On the app, named “Yangshipin”, there are four live-broadcasting videos that show the machinery working on the construction sites of the Wuhan Huoshenshan Hospital and Leishenshan Hospital, which are scheduled to be operational on February 3 with 1,000 beds and on February 5 with 1,600 beds, respectively.
Live streaming the construction of the two hospitals has become popular on China’s social media—the topic #Live streaming Building Hospitals has 230 million views on Weibo. Chinese netizens call themselves “online overseers” and have nicknamed bulldozers and trucks, like “Little Yellow” and “Little Blue.”
On Thursday morning, CCTV created a ranking list of different machines under the video feed for watchers to vote by clicks to show their support for the project. The chart, however, was removed shortly after its release for reasons unknown. Furthermore, there have been some comments on Weibo criticizing CCTV for highlighting such a serious public health issue in an entertaining manner.
The two hospitals are modeled after the Beijing Xiaotangshan Hospital, which was built in 2003 for the SARS crisis, and are expected to alleviate the pressure on Wuhan’s current health system, where hospitals are overcrowded and undergoing a shortage of protective gear and other medical equipment. More than 2,261 people in Wuhan have been infected with the virus as of Thursday morning.
The fast-spreading epidemic in China caused by the new virus has already claimed 170 lives and infected over 7,826 people to date in China according to Chinese officials. Cases have also been reported in 15 other countries including Thailand, Singapore, Japan, and the U.S.
To curb the spread of the coronavirus, Chinese authorities have extended the Lunar New Year public holiday by three days to February 2, encouraging people to stay at home and avoid mass gatherings. In some regions, like Shanghai, Jiangsu province, and Zhejiang province, the governments have extended the holiday to February 9.
Schools are also postponing spring semester classes and Chinese tech companies and edtech institutions including Alibaba’s video site Youku, English tutoring firm VIPKID, and NetEase’s Youdao all offer free online or live-streamed courses to students now.