Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 7 August 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: UAE-backed company plays key role setting up London’s 4,000-bed field hospital

The Adnec-owned ExCel events space will open as NHS Nightingale to provide extra capacity in the fight against the pandemic

The ExCel London events space, owned by the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, is set to play a pivotal role in UK efforts to counter the novel coronavirus when it opens later this week.

The venue, used to host concerts and conferences, is set to open as a 4,000-bed field hospital within a matter of days as Britain grapples with the mounting public health emergency posed by the virus.

Britain, like the rest of Europe, has witnessed a dramatic rise in coronavirus cases with the epicentre of the country’s crisis in London. Hospitals in the capital have said they are expecting a “tsunami” of Covid-19 patients.

A total of 1,228 deaths has been recorded so far in the country and the military has been brought in to tackle the problem. The UK’s Covid-19 task force has worked round the clock to put the field hospital at the ExCel in place.

The UAE Ambassador to the UK, Mansoor Abulhoul, told The National he was very proud of the UAE and the UK’s joint efforts at the ExCel events space.

“In the UK it is great to see the huge effort the NHS is putting in to combat the coronavirus,” he said.

“It is wonderful when you see this UAE entity … being turned into a field hospital which will provide an extra 4,000 beds.

“We are very proud that's happening and we will continue to provide all necessary efforts here from the embassy's level,” he added.

“Both Adnec Group and ExCel London are coordinating closely with the British health authorities to ensure the smooth establishment of the medical facility,” a spokeswoman for Adnec said.

She added the Emirati-backed company was “ensuring that medical practitioners are provided with as much support as required to facilitate the provision of care to patients”.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the new NHS Nightingale hospital would be vital to efforts to contain the pandemic.

"With help from the military and NHS clinicians we will make sure we have the capacity we need so everyone can get the support they need," Mr Hancock said.

Britain is due to open further temporary hospitals in its major cities of Birmingham and Manchester with plans also under consideration for another centre in Scotland’s largest city Glasgow.

The network of field hospitals is expected to be staffed by military medical personnel plus NHS and private hospital staff.

The health service has also announced plans to call on airline cabin crews to work as ancillary staff at the facilities.

EasyJet has already written to 9,000 employees, almost half of whom are trained in CPR, to invite them to volunteer for further training before they are asked to help out at the field hospitals in London, Birmingham and Manchester.

Virgin Atlantic is calling on 4,000 of its employees to assist.

Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium has also been brought into front line service against the coronavirus pandemic. Health authorities in the UK have accepted offers from the Premier League champions to use the facilities with conference rooms and executive boxes made available during the crisis.

The Etihad is also likely to be used as a training centre moving forward.

Updated: March 31, 2020 04:19 AM

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