The government’s first emergency field hospital to treat coronavirus patients has opened in ExCel center in east London.
The NHS Nightingale Temporary Hospital can accommodate up to 4,000 patients and is cared for by NHS doctors with the help of the military.
Prince Charles paid tribute to the staff by opening the hospital via video link.
Similar hospitals are planned in Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester, Harrogate and Bristol.
The ExCel exhibit space – typically used for large events such as Crufts and Comic Con – was transformed into a hospital in just 10 days.
It is the first of many Nightingale hospitals planned for England, the last two of which are slated to be built at the University of the West of England in Bristol and the Harrogate Convention Center.
Others are slated to open at the National Exhibition Center in Birmingham and the central Manchester complex.
In Wales, more than 6,000 additional beds are in temporary hospitals – many of which are in sports and leisure facilities, including Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.
And in Scotland, a temporary hospital is being built at the Scottish Events Campus (SEC) in Glasgow. It could accommodate up to 1,000 beds and will be named NHS Louisa Jordan after a nurse who served in Serbia during the First World War.
Prince Charles officially opened the new hospital with a message honoring NHS staff by video link from his home on the royal estate of Balmoral in Scotland.
Speaking after coming out of seven days of self-isolation earlier this week after being diagnosed with the virus, he called it “a spectacular and almost incredible feat.”
It shows “how the impossible could be made possible and how we can achieve the unthinkable through human will and ingenuity,” he added, adding, “In this dark time, this place will be a bright light ”.
The Nightingale Hospital in London initially had 500 beds in place, with space for 3,500 others. He will take care of patients with the virus in intensive care who have been transferred from other London hospitals.
Staff from across the NHS will work there, including nursing students, medical students who started working early, and former doctors, nurses, and other staff who have retired .
Also at the ceremony, Secretary of Health Matt Hancock – who also recently quarantined after contracting the virus – as well as British head nurse Ruth May and NHS Nightingale chief Professor Charles Knight.
Representatives of the Ministry of Defense, contractors and volunteers were also present.
May said it was “entirely appropriate” for the hospital to be named after Florence Nightingale, who was “an iconic nursing leader of her time” and “an infection control pioneer” “
Hancock said the hospital showed “the best in the NHS” and “the best in Britain”.
According to the latest figures, 2,921 people in the UK died from the virus. The total is up 569 from 2,352 the previous day, the largest overnight increase to date.
Earlier, amid controversy over the deployment of coronavirus testing in the UK, Hancock said the government had “a huge amount of work to do” to reach its goal of 100,000 tests per day by England by the end of April.
“It has to happen. I have a plan to get us there, I’ve set it as a goal and that’s what the nation needs, “he said.
The 100,000 could include both swab tests, which check if someone has the virus, and blood antibody tests, to check if someone has had the virus recently – but which are not yet generalized. .
The Labor Party has asked for more details about the plan, with fictional chancellor John McDonnell telling BBC Breakfast that a breakdown of the type of tests that would make the 100,000 target is necessary.
Hancock said he was not counting on new blood tests for antibodies to reach the target.
It was possible that almost all of them were swab tests used to determine if someone is currently suffering from coronavirus, he told BBC Radio 4 Today.
There has been increasing pressure from front line NHS staff for the government to make more swab tests available to doctors and their families. thus, healthy but currently isolated key personnel can return to work.
Hancock said that 35,000 NHS staff members are currently on sick leave because they or a family member have had symptoms of coronavirus.
Wednesday, there was a capacity of 12,799 daily tests in England – although only 10,650 people were tested. In mid-April, the government’s goal was to test 25,000 a day.
In other developments:
- 560 new fans produced following industry call for help
- The BBC has announced that it will offer the biggest educational push in its history to help parents and children block viruses
- 36-year-old NHS nurse dies after spending weeks in intensive care with coronavirus
- Heathrow to close one of its runways next week as air traffic continues to drop
- Thursday evening, people across the UK participated in a second “Clap for Carers” tribute, saluting NHS staff and other key workers