Fangcang shelter hospitals: a novel concept for responding to public health emergencies

The Lancet
Apr 11, 2020 Volume 395 Number 10231 p1167-1228, e64-e66


Health Policy
Fangcang shelter hospitals: a novel concept for responding to public health emergencies
Simiao Chen, Zongjiu Zhang, Juntao Yang, Jian Wang, Xiaohui Zhai, Till Bärnighausen, Chen Wang
Fangcang shelter hospitals are a novel public health concept. They were implemented for the first time in China in February, 2020, to tackle the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. The Fangcang shelter hospitals in China were large-scale, temporary hospitals, rapidly built by converting existing public venues, such as stadiums and exhibition centres, into health-care facilities. They served to isolate patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 from their families and communities, while providing medical care, disease monitoring, food, shelter, and social activities. We document the development of Fangcang shelter hospitals during the COVID-19 outbreak in China and explain their three key characteristics (rapid construction, massive scale, and low cost) and five essential functions (isolation, triage, basic medical care, frequent monitoring and rapid referral, and essential living and social engagement). Fangcang shelter hospitals could be powerful components of national responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as future epidemics and public health emergencies.