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Around 10 more UK sites could become makeshift hospitals

Sky News logo Sky News 26/03/2020 Deborah Haynes and Kate McCann

a sign in front of ExCeL London: The London ExCel centre is being lined up to treat coronavirus patients © PA The London ExCel centre is being lined up to treat coronavirus patients Officials are looking to convert around 10 more sites across the country into makeshift coronavirus hospitals similar to the ExCel exhibition centre in London, Sky News understands.

Military planners are already examining five locations in support of the Department of Health and Social Care, a Whitehall source said.

Related: Coronavirus hits UK amid global pandemic (Photos)

They would not confirm any of the areas, but said they would likely include major cities like Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle.

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A second source with knowledge of government planning for the COVID-19 pandemic said the aim was to convert between eight to 10 sites into hospital facilities.

a man standing in front of a building: The London ExCel centre will have two wards, each with the capacity for 2,000 beds © PA The London ExCel centre will have two wards, each with the capacity for 2,000 beds

However the source said they would not be as large as the ExCel conversion, which will see the creation of two wards, each with the capacity for 2,000 beds.

A third source said the number was set to be between 10 and 13 - though he described the planned facilities as annexes to local hospitals.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, revealed on Tuesday that the exhibition hall in east London would open next week as the renamed NHS Nightingale Hospital.

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The facility will initially have capacity for about 500 patients, and will be staffed by NHS and military medics.

Information provided by a fourth source revealed that military planners could be asked to look for 10 "Excel-type" hospital sites across the country.

The Ministry of Defence last week said it was creating a COVID-19 Support Force to help the government in its response to the pandemic.

Up to 20,000 military personnel are on standby to assist.

Among the tasks they are already looking into is how to help the NHS generate more hospital bed capacity amid concerns about the anticipated influx of patients as the outbreak worsens.

Stay at home to stop coronavirus spreading - here is what you can and can't do. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland, anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.

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