More UK facilities could become emergency coronavirus hospitals, No 10 says

Several more UK facilities could soon be converted to emergency field hospitals, set up to help the NHS fight the coronavirus pandemic, Downing Street has indicated.

Boris Johnson's official spokesperson said sites "all around the country" were being considered by NHS England, which is working with clinicians and teams of military planners to identify what can be done in a "number of scenarios".

The news came after it was announced London’s ExCel Centre would soon temporarily become NHS Nightingale Hospital, which will house an additional 4,000 beds.

The PM's spokesperson said 500 of those beds in the east London convention centre, which the Ministry of Defence are helping to set up, would be available for use as early as next week.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, when announcing the new temporary London hospital, revealed it would "comprise two wards, each of 2,000 people".

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

The PM's spokesperson, when asked if sites in Manchester and Birmingham were being considered, said: “The current focus is on getting the ExCel centre up and running as the NHS Nightingale Hospital.

“But NHS England is actively preparing for a number of scenarios as the outbreak continues and is working with clinicians and teams of military planners around the country.”

The comments followed reports that Birmingham's NEC was also being considered for conversion.

ITV News Security Editor Rohit Kachroo reported how the venue, which hosts concerts, exhibitions and events such as the international dogs show Crufts, is being lined up as a crisis facility to deal with the accelerating pandemic.

He said officials are concerned by a rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the West Midlands.

Scotland's Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood also claimed sites in Scotland - where there have been 894 positive tests, and 25 deaths - were "absolutely" being considered.

"We have had quite detailed discussions very recently and I know that there are sites being considered in Scotland this week," she told BBC Scotland.