Coronavirus: UK’s Prince Charles opens NHS Nightingale critical care unit in London

The 4,000-bed hospital in the Emirati-backed ExCel Centre was built in just nine days

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 03: A video message from the Prince of Wales, known as the Duke of Rothesay while in Scotland, is seen as he sends a video message to guests at the opening of the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel centre on April 3, 2020 in London, England. The field hospital will initially contain 500 beds with ventilators and oxygen and will have the capacity to eventually hold up to 4,000 COVID-19 patients. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/Getty Images)

Britain’s Prince Charles has formally opened NHS Nightingale, a 4,000-bed field hospital in east London, built in just nine days to address the country’s coronavirus crisis.

The temporary facility, housed in the Adnec-owned ExCel Centre, is now the largest critical care unit in the world, with a total of 80 wards.

The NHS Nightingale will open its doors to patients struck by Covid-19 with an initial 500 beds. However, its ultimate critical capacity of 4,000 beds will be the equivalent of 10 district general hospitals.

Built with help from the military, it is the first of six new temporary hospitals to be set up across the UK to cope with the Covid-19 outbreak.

The heir to the British throne declared the field hospital open via video link from his Scottish home in Birkhall.

The Prince of Wales completed a period of self-isolation earlier this week following his own Covid-19 diagnosis.

"It is without doubt a spectacular and almost unbelievable feat of work in every sense, from its speed of construction, in just nine days as we've heard, to its size and the skills of those who have created it,” Prince Charles said.

"An example, if ever one was needed, of how the impossible could be made possible and how we can achieve the unthinkable through human will and ingenuity," he added.

Britain’s Health Secretary, who has also been forced to self-isolate after being diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, praised all those involved in the setting up of the hospital calling it an "extraordinary project".

Matt Hancock said Nightingale’s rapid completion was "testament to the work and the brilliance of the many people involved".

He also praised the NHS and the way its staff are dealing with the virus crisis.

"In these troubled times with this invisible killer stalking the whole world, the fact that in this country we have the NHS is even more valuable than before," the health secretary said.

British authorities, like governments across the world have, scrambled to adapt to the public health emergency posed by the coronavirus. So far, 2,921 people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in Britain have died.

The danger posed to health workers by Covid-19 has been highlighted by the death of British nurse Areema Nasreen, who was in intensive care on a ventilator after testing positive for the virus.

The 36-year-old mother-of-three, who worked at Walsall Manor Hospital, was not known to have any underlying health conditions before she was admitted.

EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS