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More UK convention centres could be converted into temporary hospitals

More convention centres in the UK may be used as a makeshift hospital as the number of people infected by the coronavirus in the country continues to rise.

Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC) has said the venue is ready and well-equipped should the centre be needed for a temporary hospital to treat coronavirus patients.

At the same time the SEC (Scottish Exhibition Campus) in Glasgow may also be used as a hospital to deal with critical coronavirus cases in Scotland, the first minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

Sturgeon said the so-called Nightingale hospital would be on standby, with a first tranche of 300 beds being installed and a potential total capacity of an extra 1,000 beds if needed.

An NEC spokesperson said: “As a cornerstone of the local community, we are committed to playing our part in ensuring the health and well-being of everyone in our area. As such, we stand ready and willing to help our emergency services – especially at a time like this.

“The NEC is well equipped to be used as a support base if such need arises so please be assured, that if we are requested to do so, we can action this with immediate effect.

“We are and have been in constant communication with the local NHS trust, police and fire service, and the services are fully aware of the capabilities of the venue. We will do our utmost to support the effort in combating the virus.”

The statement comes a day after ExCeL London announced it was temporarily transforming into a field hospital to treat coronavirus patients.

ExCel London, now temporarily the NHS Nightingale hospital, will initially offer 500 beds but has capacity for 4,000 across its two exhibition halls.

Jeremy Rees, CEO, ExCeL London, said: “Our country is facing the largest national emergency for a generation and our thoughts and sympathies are with those who are personally affected by this situation. It is crucial that everyone plays their part in the national effort, working with the Government to combat the spread of the coronavirus and save lives.

“We are proud to be able to accommodate the increasing demand for hospital beds and will work with the NHS to facilitate this request. The team at ExCeL London will ensure that we work with the Government and relevant authorities to support their efforts in seeing the British people and the UK through this unprecedented crisis.”