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Venues double as Covid-19 testing centres

Venues around the world are showing their versatility in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, as more and more transform into emergency field hospitals and others start serving as drive-through testing centres.

As the UK government looks to ramp up its coronavirus testing capacity, major venues around the country are transforming into testing centres.

The SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is among such venues. Tests will be administered to NHS workers via a drive-through system in the car park of the 11,000-capacity arena.

Other sports and event stadia in the UK, including the Cardiff City Stadium in Wales and Edgbaston Stadium in Warwickshire, England, are also serving as similar centres.

The news comes as more venues in the UK double as field hospitals. The flagship Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel Centre in London opened its doors on 3 April, with the ability to hold up to 4,000 patients.

Similar hospitals are planned at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (2,000 beds), Manchester Central (1,000 beds), Glasgow’s Scottish Events Campus (1,000 beds) and the Harrogate Convention Centre (500 beds).

In Spain, Madrid’s Ifema – a 2.9 million m² conference and exhibition centre – transformed into the country’s biggest hospital in just 18 hours. Since opening on 23 March, 939 patients have been admitted to the emergency hospital.

“Music and shows form an integral part of Ifema, and we will return very soon to share these moments”

“We have transformed our space to offer the best of Ifema – our commitment and solidarity,” states the venue’s general manager, Eduardo López-Puertas.

“Music and shows form an integral part of Ifema, and we will return very soon to share these moments,” adds López-Puertas. “When it can, music will return stronger, sweeter and more immense than before. Meanwhile, we continue to do what we have to do.”

The first coronavirus patients arrived at New York’s 170,000m² Javits Convention Center last week, with the space set to hold up to 1,700 beds by the end of this week. The transformation of a similar convention centre in Detroit – the TCF Center (67,200 m²) – began today (7 April).

The Miami-Dade fairgrounds, which host the annual County Youth Fair and Exposition Inc., has been serving as a 250-bed field hospital since the end of last month, with another part of the grounds being used as a food distribution centre.

In Brazil, the Pacaembu Stadium in São Paulo is one of a number of football stadiums – including the 78,838-seat Maracanã of reigning champions Flamengo – to be turned into a temporary hospital, with room for 200 beds. Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones are among artists who have performed at the Pacaembu Stadium.

In Germany, event production giant PRG is helping to set up a hospital at the Berlin Expo Center, due to open later this month. PRG is among a number of production companies directing its skills and resources to aid the medical sector during the coronavirus crisis.


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