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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 joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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