THE Prince of Wales has opened by video link the new Nightingale Hospital in the ExCel Centre, in east London, for coronavirus patients. On Friday, Prince Charles, who was diagnosed with Covid-19 on 23 March, opened the emergency field hospital from Balmoral.
This was the first time that a member of the Royal Family has performed an opening ceremony remotely.
He said: “This hospital offers us an intensely practical message of hope for those who will need it most at this time of national suffering. Let us also pray, ladies and gentlemen, that it will be required for as short a time and for as few people as possible.”
He praised the efforts of workers in the NHS. “To convert one of the largest national conference centres into a field hospital, starting with 500 beds and with a potential of 4000, is, quite frankly, incredible.”
The army and the NHS transformed the site in nine days, with the intention of admitting patients on Friday. Similar hospitals have been planned for Birmingham, Manchester, Harrogate, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, and Belfast.
Prince Charles experienced mild symptoms of Covid-19 last month (News, 27 March), and received NHS testing because, owing to his symptoms and age of 71, he fulfilled criteria set by the NHS in Aberdeenshire. This decision, however, prompted anger over the lack of coronavirus testing available for key workers.
Referring to his diagnosis, Prince Charles, who self-isolated for seven days, said: “I was one of the lucky ones to have Covid-19 relatively mildly. I’m so glad to see the Secretary of State has also recovered. But, for some, it will be a much harder journey.”
He offered “my special thoughts and prayers to all those who will receive care within it [the Nightingale], and let us hope that it will not be too long before this terrible disease has left our land.”