Many of these workers have left their jobs in fear of contracting the disease Hospitals in Beijing are critically short of non-medical staff as many have left their jobs for fear of contracting Sars. A senior administrator at the Beijing Chest Hospital confirmed yesterday that the hospital was short of up 100 janitors, cooks and repairmen and that many left despite being offered wages of up to 3,000 to 4,000 yuan (HK$2,830 to $3,760), more than 10 times their usual monthly salary. 'We were critically short of these people, but the government is working hard to help us hire the people that we need,' said one official, surnamed Zhang. Until March, the Beijing Chest Hospital and most of the other 27 Sars-designated hospitals did not deal with infectious diseases. To help cope with the manpower shortage, administrative staff at these hospitals had to pitch in as janitors and cooks in the past two weeks, said Mr Zhang. 'Most of the staff that left either were not from Beijing and hurried back to their home provinces or went to work at non-Sars hospitals,' he said. Most hospitals were not equipped to deal with such a highly contagious disease as Sars. For instance, the Beijing Chest Hospital only had 150 beds and only in recent weeks expanded its building to become a 350-bed operation. 'We now have breathing equipment, a TV, air-conditioner, and a bathroom in each room,' said the official. 'We're now waiting for a spillover effect when the larger hospitals can't take any more patients.' Unlike the staff that ran off, doctors, nurses and all other staff are required to reside in quarantine either in the hospital or offsite. 'Perhaps living in quarantine would have been too stressful for those who left,' said the official. In recent weeks, tens of thousands of migrant workers have left Beijing for home. However, they have been treated like pariahs. In Hebei, the province that neighbours Beijing, a truck driver was arrested recently for 'smuggling' migrant workers from Beijing back home. The driver charged each migrant worker 80 to 100 yuan. Farmers throughout Hebei rallied together against migrants from Beijing, digging ditches and blocking national highways. Hebei officials have been cracking down, but to little avail as many farmers run off when officials approach and reinstall their blockades once the officials leave. In Changchun, the capital of Jilin province in northeastern China, officials banned cars from Beijing from entering the city in an effort to keep Sars out. In addition, officials require visitors from infected areas to register with the local government and stay at designated hotels.