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Large-scale public venues as medical emergency sites in disasters: lessons from COVID-19 and the use of Fangcang shelter hospitals in Wuhan, China
  1. Dongping Fang1,
  2. Shengjie Pan1,
  3. Zaishang Li1,
  4. Ting Yuan2,
  5. Benran Jiang3,
  6. Di Gan4,
  7. Bai Sheng5,
  8. Jing Han6,
  9. Tao Wang4,
  10. Zhongmin Liu4
  1. 1Department of Construction Management, School of Civil Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
  2. 2Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Shanghai Jiao Tong University Affiliated Sixth People’s Hospital, Shanghai, China
  3. 3Specialty & Inpatient Center, ParkwayHealth Shanghai, Shanghai, China
  4. 4Department of Emergency, Shanghai East Hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine / National Emergency Medical Team (Shanghai), Shanghai, China
  5. 5School of Arts and Media, Tongji University, Shanghai, China
  6. 6Emergency Management Office, Shanghai East Hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China
  1. Correspondence to Dr Zhongmin Liu; zhongmin_liu_seh{at}; Dr Tao Wang; happywt0403{at}


Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Wuhan has adopted three methods of admitting patients for treatment: designated hospitals, newly built temporary hospitals and Fangcang shelter hospitals. It has been proven that converting large-scale public venues such as stadiums and exhibition centres into Fangcang shelter hospitals, which serve as hospitals for isolation, treatment and disease monitoring of patients with mild symptoms, is the most effective way to control virus transmission and reduce mortality. This paper presents some experiences learnt from treating COVID-19 in Wuhan, the first city to report the outbreak and which suffered from a shortage of emergency supplies, heavy workload among staff and a shortage of hospital beds during the early stages of the pandemic. The experiences include location, accessibility, spacious outdoor area, spacious indoor space, power supply, architectural layout design and partition isolation, ventilation, sewage, and problems in the construction and management of Fangcang shelter hospitals. During the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional approaches to disaster preparedness have demonstrated intrinsic problems, such as poor economic performance, inefficiency and lack of flexibility. Converting large-scale public venues into Fangcang shelter hospitals is an important means to rapidly improve the function of the city’s healthcare system during a pandemic. This valuable experience in Wuhan will help other countries in their battle against the current COVID-19 pandemic and will also contribute to disaster preparedness and mitigation in the future.

  • epidemiology
  • health services research
  • hygiene

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  • Handling editor Seye Abimbola

  • DF, SP, ZL, TY, BJ and DG contributed equally.

  • Contributors DF, SP and ZL wrote the manuscript, TY, BJ and DG analysed the data. BS, JH, TW and ZL checked and guided this work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available in a public, open access repository.

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