The city of Wuhan in central China is under apocalyptic conditions since a new coronavirus that causes respiratory illness emerged there and began spreading out of control. For a week, the city has been under a quarantine that residents say is causing shortages of food and supplies. The thousands of cases in the city are also putting a strain on its medical system, with two makeshift hospitals being built and medical professionals arriving from all over the country in an effort to keep up with the outbreak.

These photos of nurses getting ready for their first shift in the coronavirus ward upon being deployed to Wuhan show the extent of the preparation they have to undergo, cutting and even shaving the sides of their hair so their medical caps can fit snugly against their heads. Additional photos show all the layers that go on after that to prevent them from contracting the disease from their patients.

Nurses cut each other’s hair in preparation to wear coronavirus protection gear

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that include the common cold, but a few have been known to cause more serious illness. The new coronavirus is said to cause fever and respiratory symptoms (cough, difficulty breathing,) with the BBC reporting that, as with most coronaviruses, it poses the highest risk of complications like pneumonia to the elderly and those with immune insufficiency. Of the nearly 8000 patients confirmed as of January 30, about 170 have died, most of whom had existing chronic health issues.

After getting dressed, they write their names on the bulky suits to identify each other

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

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Nurses wear gear to keep particles out of their eyes, noses and mouths

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Medical staff have had to rush to Wuhan from all over China to assist in the city’s overburdened hospitals, where patients and staff alike were seen sleeping on the floor, and staff have reportedly been wearing adult diapers to save time and avoid having to strip out of their tightly taped-up biohazard suits.

A Wuhan resident who lives with his father told Al Jazeera that when his father became ill with typical coronavirus symptoms, he planned to rest at home, but four days into the illness, a fever of 40°C (104°F) forced him to seek medical help. By that time, most of the hospitals in the city had queues stretching out the door with people left waiting outside, potentially for hours. The man says that it took two more days for his father to be admitted to a hospital, where he was treated for three days and is now recovering. This congestion making it difficult for new patients to be admitted is exacerbated by what Chinese people describe as widespread medical inequality. The disproportionate distribution of resources and qualified medical professionals to the highest-grade hospitals in wealthier areas leads to a distrust of local clinics, meaning that people go straight to these hospitals for outpatient concerns or tests.

Overworked medical staff fall asleep wherever they are

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Image credits: Astroboys2019

Commenters are amazed by the conditions these nurses have to endure