Under-fire UK govt rushes to build field hospitals as virus death toll surges
LONDON, Apr 3: 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.
The announcement comes as a similar 4,000-bed facility in London -- built in less than ten days -- prepares to open Friday, and as criticism mounts over the government's failure to provide screening, particularly for frontline healthcare workers.
"Further such hospitals will open next in Birmingham and Manchester, offering up to 3,000 beds between them," the NHS statement added.
The health ministry announced a record 569 deaths from the virus in Britain in the 24 hours up to 1600 GMT on Wednesday -- the largest single-day rise yet.
It followed 563 deaths over the previous corresponding period.
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.
Heir to the throne 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.
The country took part in another collective round of applause at 8:00 pm (2000 GMT) Thursday, with social media videos capturing cheers across its cities, towns and villages. -AFP