London, Apr 3: The Prince of Wales is set to officially open the new NHS Nightingale Hospital for intensive care coronavirus patients on Friday.
Prince Charles will launch the 4,000-bed temporary facility at the ExCel convention centre in East London via video-link from his Scottish home at Birkhall.
It comes four days after the 71-year-old heir to the throne completed self-isolation following his own diagnosis, although he only suffered ‘mild’ symptoms.
The hospital was built in less than ten days.
The UK government said Friday it was rushing to build more emergency field hospitals ahead of an expected surge in coronavirus cases, hours after recording a record 569 deaths from the disease.
Two new facilities will be built in Bristol in the west and Harrogate in the north to house up to 1,500 patients, the state-run National Health Service (NHS) said in a statement.
“Further such hospitals will open next in Birmingham and Manchester, offering up to 3,000 beds between them,” the NHS statement added.
Criticism mounts over the government’s failure to provide screening, particularly for frontline healthcare workers.
The health ministry announced a record 569 deaths from the virus in Britain in the 24 hours up to 1600 till Thursday — the largest single-day rise yet.
It followed 563 deaths over the previous corresponding period.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said Britain will “massively increase testing” for the COVID-19 virus following criticism of his initial light-touch approach to the outbreak.
Johnson has been in self-isolation “with mild symptoms” at his Downing Street official residence since announcing on March 27 that he had caught the virus.
Meanwhile, Prince Charles Thursday made his first public comments since coming out of self-quarantine after contracting the disease, telling the PA news agency the experience had been “strange, frustrating and often distressing”.
In a video message, he praised the “utter, selfless devotion to duty” of Britain’s health workers.
Johnson is facing criticism even in normally supportive media outlets after officials revealed that just 2,000 out of about 500,000 NHS staff had been tested.