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Seoul converts shipping containers to accommodate growing number of COVID-19 patients

Politics 16:29 December 09, 2020

SEOUL, Dec. 9 (Yonhap) -- The Seoul city government said Wednesday it will utilize shipping containers to cope with a hospital bed shortage caused by a recent surge in COVID-19 infections in the capital area.

It said it will soon install about 150 shipping container medical rooms at municipal hospitals, which are running short of resources to accommodate the rapidly growing number of coronavirus patients.

The installation of shipping container medical rooms is under way at Seoul Medical Center in eastern Seoul on Dec. 9, 2020. (Yonhap)

The plan for the temporary medical facilities was announced as the number of new daily coronavirus patients rose by a record 524 in the greater Seoul area on Wednesday. It is the first time that the capital area has reported over 500 new COVID-19 cases in a day.

According to city officials, the government will complete the installation of 48 containerized medical rooms at Seoul Medical Center in eastern Seoul by Thursday and dispatch the remaining 102 converted shipping containers to other municipal hospitals in the coming days.

The officials called for greater public understanding of such unheard-of medical facilities, saying considerable inconvenience may be inevitable for patients to be admitted into those shipping containers.

"It's true that container facilities are poor because a temporary hospital bed is different from a normal bed. But it is an unavoidable emergency situation," said one official.

The official said barrier walls and surveillance cameras will be installed around the shipping container medical rooms to block access by outsiders and thus enhance the safe operations of the facilities.

The latest data showed the bed utilization rate at Seoul hospitals dedicated to infectious diseases rose to 82.2 percent as of Tuesday, while the number of available hospital beds dedicated to severely ill patients has been reduced to a mere six.

The number of ready-to-use beds at residential treatment centers run by the Seoul city government for mild COVID-19 cases has also declined to about 470, with 1,130 beds at such centers currently occupied, the data showed.


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