Coronavirus live news: UK to open temporary Covid-19 hospital after Wuhan warns to be vigilant | News from the world


Prince Charles will open the new NHS Nightingale hospital on Friday at the ExCeL conference center in London’s Docklands, which will eventually be able to provide support to up to 4,000 coronavirus patients if necessary.

Charles, recently recovered from a mild Covid-19 case, will conduct the ceremony by videoconference from his Scottish residence in Birkhall, where he self-isolated for seven days last week.

Health secretary Matt Hancock, also recently released from self-isolation following a positive coronavirus test, and Professor Charles Knight, executive director of NHS Nightingale, will join a small group representing medical personnel, the Department of Defense, contractors and volunteers of the new hospital.

This comes as the NHS announces that two more NHS Nightingale hospitals will be built in Bristol and Harrogate to provide hundreds of additional beds if local services need them during the peak of the coronavirus, in addition to that of ExCeL.

NHS England President and CEO Sir Simon Stevens will confirm on Friday that the additional sites in South West England and Yorkshire – which will have up to 1,500 beds if necessary – have joined Manchester and Birmingham as as final sites for major new installations outside London. Each of Nightingale’s five hospitals will serve the larger areas in which they are located.

The new East London hospital is the first to open, and will initially supply up to 500 ventilator and oxygen beds. The capacity will then increase, up to several thousand beds if needed.

Built in nine days, the conversion of the ExCeL conference center to a field hospital has been cited as perhaps the most ambitious medical project Britain has seen since the end of the Second World War, and will trump all others UK hospitals.

Planning involved soldiers with experience of Afghanistan and the West African Ebola crisis working in support of health care personnel. Up to 200 soldiers a day work alongside NHS personnel and civilian contractors.

Charles should pay tribute to those who worked tirelessly to create the new medical center and to the people across the United Kingdom who provide primary care to those affected by the coronavirus crisis.

The prince recorded a message Tuesday in Birkhall, Scotland, where he recently self-isolated after being tested positive for the coronavirus.

Prince Charles will open the new
NHS Nightingale Hospital in London via video link. Photography: Clarence House / PA

Natalie Gray, head of nursing at NHS Nightingale, will unveil a plaque with Charles’ name marking the occasion.

Stevens said: “It is quite extraordinary that this new London hospital was created from scratch in less than a fortnight … Now we are preparing to repeat this feat at four other sites across the country to increase the peak capacity in the current NHS Hospitals.

“We are giving the green light to these additional sites, hoping that they may not be necessary, but we are preparing in case they are needed. But that will depend in part on continued public support for measures to reduce the growth of the infection rate by staying at home to save lives. “

The new Manchester hospital will be built in the Manchester Central complex, while the National Exhibition Center in Birmingham will care for patients as needed in the West Midlands, the region second hardest hit by the virus.

Each of these new services will initially have up to 500 beds, potentially offering up to 3,000 additional beds in case of escalation.


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