LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will open a temporary hospital next week at the ExCel exhibition centre in east London, health minister Matt Hancock said on Tuesday, as the country posted its biggest daily rise in coronavirus deaths.
The hospital will initially provide up to 500 beds equipped with ventilators and oxygen, the government said, with the capacity increasing up to several thousand beds if required.
Britain has had more than 8,000 cases of coronavirus and 422 deaths, with the biggest number of cases in London, meaning hospitals in the capital are under particular pressure.
Last week a hospital in London briefly declared a "critical incident" due to shortage of intensive care beds caused by a rise in the number of patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
"We will next week open a new hospital, a temporary hospital, the NHS Nightingale hospital, at the ExCel centre in London," Hancock said at a news conference.
He added: "The NHS Nightingale hospital will 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 ..."
The Excel Centre in the Docklands district of east London hs more than 900,000 sq feet (83,613 sq metres) of exhibition space and normally hosts industry events for sectors like defence, travel, hospitality and property. During the 2012 London Olympics it was used for a range of sports including boxing, fencing, table tennis and weightlifting.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft and Kylie MacLellan; editing by Stephen Addison)