UK NHS builds temporary hospitals, bracing for Covid-19 outbreak


England is building temporary hospitals to help cope with rising coronavirus cases, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a stern warning on Friday to those who are not fully vaccinated.

The new “surge centers” would face a potential overflow of hospital patients, as increasing cases of the virus put the country’s health services on “war footing”, officials said.

Fueled by the highly contagious variant of Omicron, daily cases have skyrocketed to more than 189,000 on Thursday.

While highlighting the success of the booster rollout, Johnson said he wanted to “speak directly to anyone who has not yet been fully immunized. People who think the disease can’t hurt them.”

“Look at the people going to the hospital now, it could be you. Look at the intensive care units and the miserable and needless suffering of those who did not receive their recall, it could be you, ”he said.

NHS England said it will provide additional beds in facilities on the grounds of eight hospitals in cities like London, Bristol and Leeds from this week, each designed to house around 100 additional patients.

Outside St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south London, workers were already installing a metal frame to support the roof of a new unit, AFP journalists found Thursday.

“With the high level of Covid-19 infections and the increase in hospital admissions, the NHS is now on a war footing,” said national medical director Stephen Powis.

He added that he hoped “that we never have to use these new hubs”.

The extra beds are designed for patients recovering from illnesses, including those no longer with Covid, to free up space and staff in adjacent hospitals to treat large numbers of virus cases.

The UK has been one of the worst affected countries in Europe with a death toll of over 148,000.

“Super-surge beds”

The government opened large “Nightingale” field hospitals in places such as exhibition centers during the first wave of the virus. Facilities named after nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale were not widely used and staffing was an issue due to their large size.

This time around, the plan is to make up to 4,000 “super-surge beds” available, in some cases using existing hospital facilities such as gymnasiums or education centers.

Doctors have warned of a growing staff shortage due to people sick with the virus or self-isolating.

England is the exception among UK countries not to impose additional virus restrictions for the holiday season, while Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have placed limits on the number of people being able to socialize together and closed nightclubs.

Johnson said the high rate of booster use in England and evidence that Omicron is milder has helped the country avoid more restrictions.

He urged people to get tested before attending New Year’s events and to be “sensitive.”

The number of people testing positive or in self-isolation is hitting sectors such as transport.

The Southern Railway Company said on Thursday it would not run trains from London’s Victoria Station, one of the busiest in the UK, until January 10 due to “isolation and illness of the coronavirus “.



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