London's ExCeL centre becomes 4,000 bed hospital to treat coronavirus patients

Docklands venue had been due to host London Bike Show this weekend before pandemic hit

Less than two weeks ago, there were no plans to cancel the London Bike Show, due to have been held this weekend. But instead the show’s venue, the ExCeL exhibition centre in the capital’s Docklands, is being hurriedly converted into a temporary hospital to treat victims of the coronavirus pandemic.

It's a stark sign of how quickly the crisis has taken hold in the capital. While around 37 per cent of the 6,650 cases so far confirmed are in London, and the city accounts for more than half the 423 deaths in the UK to date.

Named The Nightingale Hospital, the temporary facility at the 100,000 square metre venue will be operated and staffed by the military and will have 500 beds, rising to 4,000 beds once fully operational. It is due to openby next week.

According to the Ministry of Defence, it is the first of several such facilities planned across the UK, with London chosen as the site of the first because the city is running 1.5 to 2 weeks ahead of the rest of the country in terms of the number of cases of coronavirus.

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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