Health secretary Matt Hancock has said that the Excel centre in London’s Docklands is to be turned into a temporary hospital.
NHS Nightingale hospital will open next week with two wards of 2,000 people. It will be set up with the help of the military.
Hancock was making a briefing a day after the nation had been asked to curb movement, with prime minister Boris Johnson introducing strict new measures to extend the closure of businesses to include hotels, while takeaway and delivery services may currently remain open.
A government spokesperson confirmed: “To assist NHS England to prepare for a number of scenarios as the coronavirus outbreak unfolds, a team of military planners visited the Excel centre in London to determine how the centre might benefit the NHS response to the outbreak.”
The hospital is to be staffed by military medics and will be the largest such NHS facility in the country. The government has also made arrangements with private hospitals which will make available 20,000 staff, 8,000 beds and 1,200 ventilators.