Chinese healthcare workers are wearing adult diapers because they do not have time to go to the bathroom, it has been reported.
Wuhan in the Hubei province has been on lockdown since Thursday after it was believed the deadly coronavirus originated at a meat market in December.
It is a city of 11 million people and hospitals around the virus epicentre are struggling to deal with the outbreak. There are not enough hospitals, beds, doctors, nurses or even essential medical supplies such as rubber gloves and face masks.
In response to the epidemic, the People’s Republic has begun construction of two hospitals. The first has a 1,000 person capacity and is to be completed within days - by the 3rd of February. The second, which is designed to have 1,300 beds, is due to be finished in three weeks.
Meanwhile, hospitals are at breaking point with one doctor even reportedly dying in the line of duty. Some workers are wearing diapers because they do not have time to go to the toilet, while others wear them so they don’t have to remove their protective suits and potentially rip them, The Washington Post reports.
Writing on Weibo, a Wuhan doctor wrote: “We know that the protective suit we wear could be the last one we have, and we can’t afford to waste anything.”
The Chinese Centre for Disease Control said 15 hospital staff members in Wuhan have caught the virus while treating patients. According to The Post, 14 of them were infected by just one patient.
The latest figures reported Sunday morning cover the previous 24 hours and mark an increase of 15 deaths and 688 cases for a total of 1,975 infections. China has also reported five cases in Hong Kong, two in Macao and three in Taiwan. Small numbers of cases have been found in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, the US, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, France and Australia.
The US has confirmed cases in Washington state, Chicago, and most recently Southern California. The latest patient announced Saturday night travelled from Wuhan and is in isolation at a hospital and in good condition. Canada said it discovered its first case, a man in his 50s who was in Wuhan before flying to Toronto.
This latest virus comes from a large family of what are known as coronaviruses, some causing nothing worse than a cold. It causes cold- and flu-like symptoms, including cough and fever, and in more severe cases, shortness of breath. It can worsen to pneumonia, which can be fatal. It is not clear how lethal the new coronavirus is or even whether it is as dangerous as the ordinary flu, which kills tens of thousands of people every year in the US alone.
First detected last month, the virus is believed to have originated in a type of wild animal sold at a Wuhan market to be consumed as food.
Additional reporting by agencies