Great Britain

Inside new coronavirus hospital as the Army transform London’s ExCel centre into NHS Nightingale for 4,000 patients


THE Army is transforming London’s ExCel centre into an enormous makeshift hospital to fight coronavirus.

Together with the NHS, the Ministry of Defence is rapidly creating the 4,000 bed-capacity NHS Nightingale in the heart of the capital.

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London is the worst hit with the virus so far, with hospitals already struggling to cope with the influx of patients.

To tackle the killer virus the huge building – usually used for exhibitions, conferences and sporting events – is becoming another hospital – with ventilators and oxygen.

It comes as more than 14,500 cases have been reported in the UK, with 759 people dead from COVID-19.

Earlier this week chilling footage was released showing the inside of the temporary coronavirus hospital being built for a “high death toll” with two morgues.

Worker Alex Woodside filmed inside the exhibition centre as Britain continues to be gripped by the deadly disease.

NHS Nightingale is expected to be opened by April 4, with military medics working on the site to help stop the spread of the disease.

The worker posted a clip on social media showing the hospital’s main arena, which will span 1km once completed and have space for two morgues as the UK death toll continues to rise.

He said: “To be fair, I didn’t take this virus very seriously until I saw this this morning. There will be two morgues here. If you’re not taking it seriously like I wasn’t you really need to start. Because they’re preparing for a high death toll here.”

The NHS Nightingale is really an extraordinary feat.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England

Matt Hancock previously revealed plans for NHS Nightingale, saying: “We will next week open a new hospital, temporary hospital, the NHS Nightingale hospital.

“With the help of the military and with NHS clinicians we will make sure we have the capacity we need so that everybody can get the support they need.”

Following suit, the Manchester Central convention centre will also be turned into a coronavirus field hospital for up to 1000 patients.

It comes after it emerged Birmingham Airport could be turned into a temporary coronavirus mortuary for 12,000 bodies.

The airport is next to Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC), which has already been discussed as a possible location for a temporary field hospital.

Professor Stephen Powis, the National Medical Director of NHS England, said: “The NHS Nightingale is really an extraordinary feat.

What can I do during the lockdown?

Q. Can I go to the shops?

A. You will be allowed out once a day to get “basic necessities” like food and medicine. All other non-essential shops will be shut anyway.

Food deliveries and other online shopping will go ahead as normal, Boris said tonight.

Shops that can stay open are supermarkets, pharmacies, vets, pet shops, hardware stores, retail shops in hospitals, newsagents, petrol stations, banks, post offices, laundrettes and undertakers.

Q. Can I still go to work?

A. Yes but only if it is absolutely essential, and the work cannot be done at home.

Travel on roads, trains and buses has been banned, unless it’s essential to get to work.

Q. Will I need an ID or proof of what I’m doing outside of my home?

A. It’s not yet clear. In France and other countries where similar lockdown are enforce people have to carry out forms detailing why they are out of the house.

The PM didn’t mention this in his press statement.

Q. Can the police arrest me or fine me?

A. Yes. On Thursday police will have the power to fine you up to £1000 and even force you into self-isolation if they suspect you from being ill.

New fines are also set to be put in place of £30 for refusing to obey the new measures to stay indoors.

Q. Can I have a picnic in the park?

A. No. Gatherings of more than two people outside of a household have been banned.

You will be able to jog, go for a walk or bike-ride in a park once a day.

You won’t be able to go to the playground or a public gym, however, as these will be shut down.  Parks will remain open.

Q: Can I get an MOT?

Garages are open for key workes to get essential repairs, including MOTs.

If you do not need your car to get to an essential job, or take care of a vulnerable relative, you should not be driving.

Q: Can I get an emergency repair done to my boiler or electrics?

Yes, but only if it’s an emergency and essential to your home or safety.

Any check ups or maintenence appointments should be cancelled.

Anyone coming to your home should stay 2m away.

Q: Should I move house if I’m planning to?

If you can, stay in your home.

Gove said this morning if it’s possible to put pause on your move, do so, but accepted there will be situations where people have to move house.

Q. Can I go to a Church, Mosque or Synagogue or other place of worship?

A. No. All religious gatherings, including weddings have been banned.

Only Funerals will be able to take place – and only immediate family members will be allowed to attend.

“From a standing start, a day or two ago, a hospital will be built that will be able to take its first patients at the start of next week.

“That is a remarkable achievement, that our staff, working with the military have been able to work on.”

The NEC in Birmingham is also being considered as another regional field hospital.

Military chiefs will also look to build more massive field hospitals across the nation in conference centres, football stadiums and cricket grounds.

The makeshift hospitals will be similar to those seen in coronavirus ground zero Wuhan, which were rapidly built as the virus took hold.

Last week we told how supermarkets including Iceland and Tesco announced special store hours for NHS staff so they can access food and essentials during the coronavirus epidemic.

It comes after one nurse made a tearful plea to fellow shoppers to stop stockpiling food and essentials after ending her 48-hour shift to find supermarket shelves empty.

Yesterday we reported how frontline Heathrow immigration officer and his daughter tragically died from coronavirus 24 hours apart.


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Terminal 3 worker Sudhir Sharma, 61, passed away on Wednesday and pharmacist Pooja, 33, the following day.

Britain turned blue on Thursday night and joined in a mass round of applause to thank NHS heroes battling deadly coronavirus.

Landmarks lit up for frontline healthcare workers, while Brits up and down the country clapped and whooped in a joint show of support.

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