London’s massive ExCeL exhibition centre will become a temporary hospital to stem a predicted tide of coronavirus-effected patients.
It’s usually used for massive conventions, with a capacity for over 68,000 visitors across more than 87,000 square metres of space, but the centre will next week open as a 4,000-bed medical unit.
The United Kingdom’s Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, made the announcement last night (local time), with the opening of the new ‘National Health Service (NHS) Nightingale’ hospital tweeted by the Prime Minister’s account.
To help the NHS fight #coronavirus we're:
🙋♂️🙋♀️ Recruiting 250,000 volunteers to help support vulnerable people
🩺 Bringing in 35,000 more NHS staff (new and returning)
🏥 Opening NHS Nightingale, a new temporary hospital in London@MattHancock explains: pic.twitter.com/C4swBo6vpm
— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) March 24, 2020
According to Hancock, the Nightingale hospital will consist of two wards housing up to 2,000 people each, and will be staffed by NHS staff as well as military personnel.
The country is also looking for as many as 250,000 volunteers “in good health” to help the NHS and the vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic for “shopping and delivery of medicines”.
“If you are well and able to do so safely, I would urge you to sign up today to help the most vulnerable people in our communities as an NHS Volunteer Responder,” Hancock said.
It comes as more than 8,000 people have been infected with COVID-19, out of a pool of over 90,000 Brits tested. The United Kingdom’s death toll from coronavirus stands at 422, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.
According to the World Health Organization’s latest situation report, more than 372,000 people have been infected with the virus globally, with over 39,000 new cases in the last 24 hours.
As many as 16,231 people have died from COVID-19, with 1,772 new deaths recorded in the last 24 hours.
Featured image credit: Flickr/Ed Webster