Manchester Arena and Birmingham NEC could become field hospitals

Britain's major entertainment venues today 'stand ready' to be transformed into field hospitals to cope with an influx of coronavirus patients. 

The National Exhibition Centre (NEC) near Birmingham, located off the M42 motorway, has 18 exhibition halls and plays host to dozens of high-profile conferences and shows each year, including Crufts.

Bosses at the venue, close to Birmingham Airport, have said they 'stand ready' to help the NHS 'with immediate effect' if the call comes from the Government.

And Scotland's chief medical officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, said numerous sites were being considered north of the border 'on the cusp of rapid escalation'. 

Footage has also revealed how the ExCel Centre in East London is becoming a 4,000-bed field hospital with two emergency morgues as nearby City Airport closes to civilian flights so that military planes can fly in and out.

A worker shared sobering video from inside the exhibition hall where work started yesterday as the Ministry of Defence and NHS create the new hospital from scratch to accommodate rising numbers of Covid-19 patients.

The exhibition centre in East London will become the NHS Nightingale Hospital, with ventilators and oxygen at every bedside and should be up and running by Saturday, April 4. Military medics will also be working to treat patients on the site.

A tank of liquid oxygen is lifted from a low loader to be installed at the ExCeL London exhibition centre

A tank of liquid oxygen is lifted from a low loader to be installed at the ExCeL London exhibition centre

A driver shared these pictures of the beds which will fill the NHS Nightingale Field Hospital

A driver shared these pictures of the beds which will fill the NHS Nightingale Field Hospital 

Tankers of liquid oxygen at the site in east London, amid fears Britain could be in short supply

Tankers of liquid oxygen at the site in east London, amid fears Britain could be in short supply 

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said 500 of the additional 4,000 beds created in the NHS Nightingale Hospital being set up in London's ExCeL centre will be available for use next week

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said 500 of the additional 4,000 beds created in the NHS Nightingale Hospital being set up in London's ExCeL centre will be available for use next week

A London Ambulance service vehicle waits on a ramp at the ExCel centre today as thousands of emergency workers across the UK join the fight against the virus

A London Ambulance service vehicle waits on a ramp at the ExCel centre today as thousands of emergency workers across the UK join the fight against the virus 

Dozens of workers at the ExCel are preparing the site in readiness for thousands of patients affected by Covid-19

Dozens of workers at the ExCel are preparing the site in readiness for thousands of patients affected by Covid-19

Military Personnel arriving at the ExCel centre in East London today as the emergency hospital preparations get underway

Military Personnel arriving at the ExCel centre in East London today as the emergency hospital preparations get underway

Venues up and down the country - including the ExCel Centre in London, Manchester Arena, and Birmingham NEC, are set to become field hospitals

Venues up and down the country - including the ExCel Centre in London, Manchester Arena, and Birmingham NEC, are set to become field hospitals 

An Army truck arrives at the ExCel Centre this morning as it becomes the Nightingale Hospital

An Army truck arrives at the ExCel Centre this morning as it becomes the Nightingale Hospital

The National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, where bosses say they

The National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, where bosses say they 'stand ready' to help the NHS 'with immediate effect' if the call comes from the Government

Lorries delivering oxygen to the ExCel centre, London, which is being made into a temporary hospital - the NHS Nightingale hospital, comprising of two wards, each of 2,000 people, to help tackle coronavirus

Lorries delivering oxygen to the ExCel centre, London, which is being made into a temporary hospital - the NHS Nightingale hospital, comprising of two wards, each of 2,000 people, to help tackle coronavirus

Army Reserve troops are mobilised in fight against coronavirus 

The Army Reserve - Britain's active volunteer force - is mobilising to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

At least 10,000 volunteer soldiers will start a range of national operations, including helping supply NHS hospitals, it is understood. 

Volunteers for what used to be known as the Territorial Army were contacted on Sunday night.

Members were told to prepare to mobilise within 48 hours via text message or email.

The MoD placed the Reservists and an additional 10,000 full-time soldiers on standby last week.

They have now been deployed following the Prime Minister's address on Monday.

The volunteers will deliver personal protective equipment around the country, which is essential to protecting doctors and nurses from the coronavirus.

Others have started training in driving oxygen tankers.

Army staff are also giving advice and support to public services and local authorities in their response to the coronavirus.

The Reserves have formed a major part of what is being dubbed the Covid Support Force.

It is thought there are around 35,000 Reservists around the country, many of whom have been mobilised.

They regularly assist the main army in a variety of major operations at home and abroad. 

As Britain started its third day of mass self-isolation today, it also emerged: 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will finally today unveil a coronavirus bailout for millions of stricken self-employed workers. One of the government's top advisers said the UK's epidemic will get worse before it gets better but could peak by Easter.  Dyson has been handed an order of 10,000 ventilators from the Government - as long as the machines pass early tests.  Retailer Boots begged people not to turn up demanding tests because it has yet to receive any. Royal aides tried to trace anyone Prince Charles has met in the last fortnight after he tested positive for the disease.  The latest coronavirus figures for the UK showed 9,529 positive tests and a death toll of 465.  

In a statement, NEC Group chief executive Paul Thandi said: 'As a cornerstone of the local community, we are committed to playing our part in ensuring the health and wellbeing 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.' 

A worker yesterday posted video on social media showing the main arena of the 100-acre waterside ExCel site, which will become a hospital ward spanning one kilometre. 

In his clip, he warns viewers: '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.' 

Just two miles away across the River, London City Airport has suspended all private and commercial flights to support the national effort. It will now be used by the government, with the RAF seen using it for training yesterday.

Soldiers in fatigues were spotted at the exhibition and conference centre's loading bays in east London's former Royal Victoria Docks site this morning, while a number of large vans and forklift trucks were also seen going onto the site.

The move – similar to the creation of the 1,000-bed field hospital seen in Wuhan, China, earlier in the crisis – is aimed at treating thousands of coronavirus patients as regular hospitals come under greater pressure. 

Converting the ExCeL London into a pop-up hospital to treat the country's sick during the coronavirus outbreak is a huge logistical operation - but one the military is prepared for, a retired British general has said. 

There was little other sign of the mammoth transformation being under way as onlookers stopped by the ExCeL ahead of the hospital treating its first patients from next week.

Major General Timothy Cross, who ran Nato's emergency relief operation in Kosovo and Macedonia in the 1990s, said it was a 'big process' to create a field hospital, but said the military was used to it.

The venue - once used for concerts and public events - is quickly being transformed into an emergency hospital

The venue - once used for concerts and public events - is quickly being transformed into an emergency hospital 

The exhibition centre in East London will become the NHS Nightingale Hospital, with ventilators and oxygen at every bedside

The exhibition centre in East London will become the NHS Nightingale Hospital, with ventilators and oxygen at every bedside

Military medics will also be working to treat patients on the site, which should be operating by April 4

Pictured: Military personnel at the ExCel as they create a hospital to prepare for a 'tsunami' of coronavirus cases in the capital

Pictured: Military personnel at the ExCel as they create a hospital to prepare for a 'tsunami' of coronavirus cases in the capital 

Pictured: Plans for the hospital at the ExCel centre in East London, where a mortuary is being built to cope with the outbreak

Pictured: Plans for the hospital at the ExCel centre in East London, where a mortuary is being built to cope with the outbreak

Meanwhile, the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) near Birmingham has said it 'stands ready' amid expectations more temporary field hospitals could be set-up during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Pictured: How the centre in Newham, East London, is being transformed into a hospital amid the coronavirus pandemic

A worker showed the sobering video of the Nightingale

Pictured: How the centre in Newham, East London, is being transformed into a hospital amid the coronavirus pandemic

Pictured: A Royal Air Force C-130 Super Hercules Transport Plane Lands at London City Airport during the ongoing Shutdown throughout the country

Pictured: A Royal Air Force C-130 Super Hercules Transport Plane Lands at London City Airport during the ongoing Shutdown throughout the country

Dozens of military personnel are working inside the centre, to transform in time to help people affected by the deadly virus

Dozens of military personnel are working inside the centre, to transform in time to help people affected by the deadly virus 

St John Ambulance staff and personnel in military fatigues seen inside the ExCeL London exhibition centre

St John Ambulance staff and personnel in military fatigues seen inside the ExCeL London exhibition centre

Just across the River, London City Airport has suspended all private and commercial flights to support the national effort. It will now be used by the government, with Armed Forces personnel seen using it earlier in the week

Just across the River, London City Airport has suspended all private and commercial flights to support the national effort. It will now be used by the government, with Armed Forces personnel seen using it earlier in the week

The move – similar to the creation of the 1,000-bed field hospital seen in Wuhan, China, earlier in the crisis – is aimed at treating thousands of coronavirus patients as regular hospitals come under greater pressure. Pictured, workers on site this morning

The move – similar to the creation of the 1,000-bed field hospital seen in Wuhan, China, earlier in the crisis – is aimed at treating thousands of coronavirus patients as regular hospitals come under greater pressure. Pictured, workers on site this morning

Men in military uniforms being shown around the ExCeL London, which is being converted into the NHS Nightingale field hospital, with its twin hangars each taking 2,000 sick and seriously ill Covid-19 patients

Men in military uniforms being shown around the ExCeL London, which is being converted into the NHS Nightingale field hospital, with its twin hangars each taking 2,000 sick and seriously ill Covid-19 patients 

Workers carry fences at the Excel exhibition centre in London. It should be up and running by Saturday, April 4

Workers carry fences at the Excel exhibition centre in London. It should be up and running by Saturday, April 4

Construction workers work near the Excel Centre in London's Docklands this morning, as work starts on the new hospital

Construction workers work near the Excel Centre in London's Docklands this morning, as work starts on the new hospital 

A worker on the grounds at the ExCel covered up in a face mark to begin work this morning

A worker on the grounds at the ExCel covered up in a face mark to begin work this morning

St John Ambulance staff were also seen leaving the Excel exhibition centre in London this morning

St John Ambulance staff were also seen leaving the Excel exhibition centre in London this morning 

Coronavirus tracker app suggests more than six million people in UK could be infected

An app tracking people's coronavirus symptoms in their own homes has revealed that more than 6.6million people in the UK could have had the infection already.

The COVID Symptom Tracker, created by scientists at King's College London, was downloaded around 650,000 times in the first 24 hours after it launched on Tuesday.

By today it had been signed up to by 1.25million people and has become the third most popular download in the UK's App Store, with some 50,000 new users per hour.

Analysis of the first 650,000 users found that 10 per cent of them have had the symptoms of the coronavirus, which causes fever, coughing and tiredness.

Health authorities in the UK aren't testing anyone for the virus unless they're in hospital so the app could be one of the clearest pictures of how many people are ill.

If its infection rate of one in every 10 people is applied to the UK's population of 66million, that could mean 6.6m or more have already had the illness which has sent the world into hiding.

Members of the military are part of the Covid-19 support force which will next week open and run the NHS Nightingale hospital, with capacity to treat 4,000 coronavirus patients across two super wards.

Speaking on the BBC's Today programme, Maj Gen Cross said: 'What you've got in the ExCeL centre is a large, open space with power, lighting, water, sanitation, good accessibility but also obviously the ability to isolate.

'That's the sort of thing one's looking for deploying on operations in various places around the world.

'It's a big process, but there's a process for setting it all up.'

The NEC in Birmingham said it also 'stands ready' and is 'well equipped' to become a temporary hospital after reports suggested the site was another location being considered by the Government.

There are currently three regular medical field hospitals across England, where military personnel work alongside NHS staff.

These are at Keogh Barracks in Aldershot, Strensall in North Yorkshire, and Fort Blockhouse in Gosport.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: 'Our military planners and engineers are working hand-in-hand with the NHS to support their development of the NHS Nightingale Hospital. 

'The Armed Forces have already been distributing personal protective equipment to meet the increased demand and we stand ready to assist further in any capacity needed. 

'The NHS and our Armed Forces are both world leaders in their fields, and this ambitious project is just one example of what can be achieved when they come together to help the nation.' 

London City Airport has suspended all commercial and private flights from tonight until the end of April amid plummeting passenger numbers during the coronavirus outbreak.

The airport said in a statement: 'Following the Government's latest instructions in response to the coronavirus outbreak, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to temporarily suspend all commercial and private flights from the airport.

'At this point in this fast moving and unprecedented situation, we think this is the responsible thing to do for the safety and well-being of our staff, passengers and everyone associated with the airport.'

The airport added: 'We have offered the use of London's most central airport to the Government in case it can be used by the emergency services or other agencies to support the national effort to combat the outbreak of this virus and provide care to people in need.'

Police introduce coronavirus CHECKPOINTS on roads and order neighbours to report 'large' gatherings as 8% of Britons are STILL flouting lockdown with house parties, barbecues and 'non-essential' shopping 

Police are today being told how to disperse groups of people. Pictured is a PCSO breaking up a game of football between youths in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside

Police are today being told how to disperse groups of people.

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