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Members of the Queen's Ghurka Engineers Regiment, 36 Engineer Regiment, help to build the new NHS Nightingale Hospital at London's ExCel.

Reuters

Coronavirus: Inside the new 4,000-bed NHS Nightingale hospital at London’s ExCel centre

The army has been working with building contractors to construct a 4,000-bed hospital in London to tackle the coronavirus.

COVID-19 patients will be treated at the NHS Nightingale, a new facility built at London’s ExCel centre.

Initially, 500 beds equipped with ventilators and oxygen will be used to treat the seriously ill, but the number of patients is expected to rapidly increase.

The NHS will also build more temporary hospitals in Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff and Scotland.

Before the scale of the crisis became clear, the UK was believed to have had one of the lowest proportions of intensive care units in Europe, but the NHS says 33,000 beds are now available for COVID-19 patients.

On Monday, it was announced that cabin crew from airlines will join doctors and nurses in staffing the new Nightingale hospitals across the country.

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Staff at Virgin Atlantic and EasyJet have been invited to volunteer at the facility at the ExCel and those planned in Birmingham and Manchester.

Their salaries will continue to be paid by the airlines.

EasyJet has written to its 9,000 UK-based staff, including 4,000 cabin crew trained in CPR, to invite them to give their time to the NHS.

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Virgin Atlantic will begin writing to 4,000 of its employees on Monday and will prioritise getting in touch with those who already have the required skills.

St John's Ambulance has already said that hundreds of people will give their time at the Nightingale hospital in London.

Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said the NHS needs "all the support we can get".

She added: "Thousands of nurses, medics and other expert staff are returning to work alongside us, but we need everyone to do their bit – whether that is working in one of our current health or social care services, working in the Nightingale Hospital, volunteering to help the NHS or following government advice to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives."

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