Doctors braced for coronavirus Nightingale hospitals to reopen ‘in three weeks’



Doctors are braced for the reopening of Covid wards in just three weeks to combat a coronavirus surge.

They have been told unofficially the emergency measures will be necessary from October 2.

Nightingale Hospitals built to help the NHS cope with the first wave of the virus are being made ready for new patients.

And those currently relieving pressure on the NHS by carrying out cancer screening and routine ultrasound tests are being readied for a second wave.

In the North East a hospital was built at the IAMP manufacturing park on the border of Sunderland and South Tyneside.

Health officials will not confirm preparations are under way.

But one consultant told the Sunday Mirror: “Plans are in place for Covid wards to be reopened to cope with a fast-rising rate of infections.

“More people are going back to work, schools are open and more people are socialising in spite of the new restrictions. We have to be ready.”

A spokesman for NHS England said Nightingales “are on Covid standby” as the R rate is now as high as 1.7.

That means people with the virus are infecting an average of nearly two others and cases are doubling every seven days.

New social distancing restrictions in force from tomorrow mean children’s birthday parties and Halloween trick-or-treating are cancelled – as are bonfire night and Diwali celebrations.

Even Christmas gatherings are under threat. But yesterday Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said: “My hope is we can have a proper Christmas.”

Flu will cause an epidemic of self-isolation as coughs and fevers indistinguishable from Covid sweep in.

Under the “rule of six” a family of two parents with three children will be able to entertain one grandparent but not two. And the “rule of sex” will halt hanky-panky between student freshers when universities return. But there is growing anger that police could be called to throw out an excess granny from a gathering – yet Boris Johnson wants people back at work.

Ex-chief scientific adviser Sir Mark Walcott said people must work from home to keep Covid in check, warning: “We’re on the edge of losing control.”

Mr Gove said stricter controls are on the way with fines for anyone with symptoms who does not self-isolate. The PM is desperate to avoid following Israel into full lockdown as the daily corona tally there hit a record 4,000.

Shadow Heath Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “It’s now urgent an effective locally led public test, trace and isolate service is out in place to drive infections down.”

The latest 24-hour period saw nine people die. The UK toll is now 41,623.

An Imperial College and Ipsos Mori analysis of 150,000 Covid tests found 13 people per 10,000 were infected in England between August 22 to September 7, compared to four per 10,000 between July 24 and August 11.

That trend will lead to more local lockdowns and curfews. And a national curfew from 10pm to 5am would be the next step to stop the spread among younger age groups.

Meanwhile, the Office of Budget Responsibility says the UK may need to borrow £391billion next year – dwarfing an earlier figure of £55billion.





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