Makeshift coronavirus isolation ‘pods’ have emerged at hospitals across England as the country is on high alert for new cases of the illness.
A ninth person was diagnosed last night, in London, and scientists and authorities expect there to be more infections in the coming weeks and days.
The NHS has ordered all hospitals to set up the isolation booths so they can send people there if they are suspected to have the coronavirus, named SARS-CoV-2.
Pictures show rusty portable cabins and windowless shipping containers being used for the purpose on the grounds outside of hospitals’ main buildings or in car parks.
Health service bosses said there must be facilities in place to keep suspected patients away from the general public while they’re assessed over the phone by medics.
Hospitals in London, Hartlepool, Stevenage, Blackpool, Eastbourne, Brighton and Bournemouth have been seen with the pods outside.
It comes as the recorded number of cases in China surged overnight to around 60,000 and 1,369 people have died.
A cabin is being used as an isolation pod at Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester
At Eastbourne District General Hospital, windowless shipping containers at the side of what appears to be a road in the hospital grounds are used
A crane delivers a cabin to University Hospital of North Tees, where it will be used as a coronavirus isolation pod
A contamination tent being set up outside A&E at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington a stone’s throw from the Lindo Wing where all of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s children were born
Blackpool Victoria Hospital has attached a sign to a permanent building, indicating that suspected coronavirus patients should go there
More than 60,000 infections have now been confirmed and over 1,300 people have died. Almost all the cases and deaths remain in China
A letter sent from NHS England to hospital directors two weeks ago instructed them all to have the pods up and running by Friday, February 7.
It said: ‘As part of managing care in Emergency Departments, trusts are being asked to organise a “Coronavirus Priority Assessment Pod”, which will mean people with symptoms indicative of infection will get quick assessment, while other patients also continue to get appropriate care.’
The letter said the pod must have a phone which is available 24 hours a day so worried patients can speak to a specialist response team at any time.
There must also be clear signs and posters directing people the the pod so they don’t have to come into contact with staff – people will not be allowed to just wander into the pods but must be referred there first.