Prince Charles on Friday, April 3, 2020 opened a new hospital designed to have up to 4,000 beds by video link, praising its rapid construction as an example of how people can achieve the unthinkable through human will.
The National Health Service (NHS), Nightingale hospital, housed in a former exhibition centre in London, has an initial 500 beds to cope with an expected rise in the number of patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms requiring intensive care.
“It is, without doubt, a spectacular and almost unbelievable feat of work in every sense, from its speed of construction, in just nine days – to its size and the skills of those who have created it,’’ Charles said.
Charles, 71, who was infected with coronavirus but suffered only mild symptoms, said that COVID-19 would be defeated globally.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is also infected with the virus and still self-isolating, thanked those involved in the building of the hospital.
“This immense effort means we will have an extra 4,000 beds to care for coronavirus patients,’’ Johnson said.
Speaking at the hospital, Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said the extraordinary project was launched when it was clear, a few weeks ago, that the country needed to expand its NHS critical care capacity.
Many health experts have criticised the government’s slow response to the crisis, the low level of testing for the virus and the poor provision of intensive care beds, ventilators and protective equipment.
However, the experts warned that Britain could face one of the world’s highest death rates from COVID-19 in the next few weeks.