The government has begun transferring people injured in the quake to other provinces and regions to ease the pressure on doctors and medical facilities in Sichuan.
The authorities will move about 8,000 injured people by train and air to other parts of the country by the end of this month, the Ministry of Health said yesterday.
Hospitals in the municipality and the provinces have reserved 8,000 beds, according to Xinhua.
The move follows the ministry's May 18 notice, which required medical administrations and institutions in neighboring Chongqing municipality, and Guizhou, Yunnan and Shaanxi provinces to prepare to receive the injured from Sichuan.
This is the first time since the 1976 Tangshan quake (in which 240,000 people died) that the government has decided to shift so many people from one place to another for medical treatment.
Most of those being transferred have suffered minor injuries, provincial health authorities said. The decision whether or not to shift the seriously injured would be taken by medical experts, said Zhang Bing, a disaster rescue and relief official with Mianyang city.
Till Tuesday, at least 2,900 people had been shifted, most of them by train, from the province. The first special trains for quake victims left Chengdu and Mianyang for Chongqing, Guangzhou and Xi'an on Monday.
At least 1,300 injured were transported to Guizhou province, and Chongqing, Kunming, Xi'an and Guangzhou yesterday.
The ministry will instruct hospitals outside Sichuan about the number and nature of patients they are to receive. It will coordinate the government agencies' operations, too.
The railways has disinfected the compartments of the trains and installed special equipment to store special drugs.