Exclusive: A first look around the UK's pop-up Coronavirus pods
13 February 2020, 16:31
LBC News has been given an exclusive tour of the new pop-up coronavirus pods which have been set up at North Tees hospital.
The pods have been set up so doctors can immediately isolate and assess any suspected cases which come to the north east hospital.
The hospital's Medical Director, Deepak Dwarakanath gave a tour of one of the pods, which have been designed to keep patients as comfortable as possible while minimising the risk of others being infected.
"As you can see, this is very basically furnished with a few chairs as well let it's nice and warm," he said.
"Patients will be comfortable in here while they're being assessed.
"There's a small kitchen provide drinks etc. and a fully functioning toilet next door."
When asked if this is being rolled out across the country, he said: "Yes, it is all trust across the the country that's have A&E or urgent care centres have been asked to provide these pods.
Dr Dwarakanath also explained that these are just precautionary measures, saying: "This is just so that we can safely and isolate patients from our normal patients that are attending the A&E and the urgent cares.
"We are not predicting a huge increase in cases coming through. And this is just the safe ways of assessing the public threat as required."
He also gave advice to anyone concerned about the virus, stating: "The pods are not walk in centres, patients who are worried about having coronavirus are advised to call 111 to get expert advice from the people there."
Julie Lane, Chief Nurse and Director of Patient Safety and Quality of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The pods are simply a required precaution to ensure we have an isolated area where anyone referred to us with suspected coronavirus can be assessed in safety.
“I would like to stress that the pods are not a drop in centres, nor should they be taken as confirmation of any local cases.
“At present, we have no cases of coronavirus in our Trust.”
Earlier today, it was announced the first London coronavirus patient had travelled to Lewisham Hospital in an Uber, going against advice by health bosses.
So far, nine people in the UK have been confirmed to have the virus.
And in Islington, GP surgery was forced to close amid concerns about the virus.
An alert on the Ritchie Street Health Centre website says: "Practice is closed until 14/02/2020 due to the coronavirus. Any patients that have the symptoms should call 111 and not come to the practice".
83 people who were being held in quarantine in the Wirral after they were evacuated from Wuhan have all been let out as they pose "no threat to public health".
In China 1,355 people have now died from the virus, and more than 60,000 infected.
Additional reporting by Lilli Keen.