By Tuba Sahin
ANKARA (AA) - A brand new environment-friendly hospital in Istanbul, Turkey opened its doors earlier than expected on Monday amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group provided €158.9 million ($175.4 million) for the Okmeydani Hospital project which was expected to be completed and officially opened in May.
More than 600 hospital beds equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including 99 high-tech intensive care units (ICUs), started serving patients suffering from the pandemic, according to a statement from the IsDB Group.
The old Okmeydani Training and Research Hospital was demolished under the Istanbul Seismic Risk Reduction and Emergency Case Preparation Project (ISMEP), with the new building constructed in its place.
Salah Jelassi, the IDB Group's regional director in Turkey, underlined that the hospital was launched when it was most required.
"Reconstructing and thereby transforming the old hospital to a state-of-the-art seismic-resistant healthcare facility which will also play the role of a major center of excellence in cardiology and organ-transplant," Jelassi said.
Apart from its highly seismic-resistant structure, the new hospital building includes several large courtyards that can be used as shelters in the wake of possible earthquakes, the statement added.
Istanbul is in a highly seismic region and Turkey suffered over a hundred major earthquakes of magnitudes of 6 or more on the Richter Scale over the last century.
Thus, the government has taken major steps in adopting a strategy for the seismic-proofing of buildings in a bid to mitigate risks related to major earthquakes, especially public structures including hospitals and other emergency service centers.
The coronavirus death toll in Turkey reached 168 on Monday, with 10,827 positive cases, according to the country's Health Ministry.
After first appearing in Wuhan, China last December, the infection has spread to at least 178 countries and territories.
The number of confirmed cases worldwide has surpassed 775,300 while the death toll is over 37,000 and more than 164,400 have recovered, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.