The “Emergency Medical Aid Ship” would be able to handle coronavirus cases and patients with similar contagious respiratory diseases. The ship was designed by the China State Shipbuilding Corporation’s Institute 701.
The unit is based in Wuhan where the outbreak began and where they also design warships.
The institute’s official social media account said: “The ship should effectively deal with unknown infectious diseases such as Covid-19 [the disease caused by the novel coronavirus], with a brand new medical protection protocol and arrangement of personnel, materials, fuel, ventilation, waste and sewage.”
China currently has only one hospital ship which is a 14,000 tonne vessel called the Daishandao.
The Daishandao is operated by the People’s Liberation Army Navy and used mainly for overseas humanitarian missions.
The new ships would be able to provide medical help abroad during an epidemic, and could also be used for evacuations.
Song Zhongping, a Hong Kong-based military affairs commentator said: “The ship’s key feature would be its quarantine capacity to prevent cross-infection.
“I think in the future, warships will add contagion prevention modules.
“In the case of an infectious disease outbreak at sea, patients could be put into the quarantine module to prevent further spread.”
Institute 701 has designed most of the Chinese navy’s surface vessels, aircraft carriers and submarines.
The project task force had to overcome a number of challenges due to Wuhan’s lockdown which meant the team had to work online from home.
The designers drew lessons from two temporary field hospitals in Wuhan which were built in less than 10 days each to cope with the outbreak.
They also learnt from the infections on the Diamond Princess cruise ship by looking at trying to improve compartmentation of cabins and space.
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There are currently 179,238 cases worldwide with over 7,000 deaths.
China still has the highest number of cases at over 80,000.
Cruise ships are the worst places for virus transmission as many passengers have close contact in limited spaces.
Many of the cabins also rely on air-conditioning which are also believed to help viruses spread via droplets.
The cruise ship industry has been massively damaged by the coronavirus.
Mr Zhongping added:“If the [floating hospital] design can be adopted by cruise ships, it would also be a great business opportunity,”
It comes as Boris Johnson gave his first daily press briefing yesterday.
The briefing saw the Prime Minister advise the public against going to mass gatherings and socialising in public places.
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