The ExCel London centre may be turned into a makeshift hospital to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
The ExCel is located in the Docklands, between London City Airport and Canary Wharf, and is on a 100-acre site.
NHS bosses and military planners met yesterday to discuss how the centre could help with the health service’s response to the crisis.
The Evening Standard is reporting that one option being discussed is to use the large convention centre as a temporary hospital, which could treat thousands of patients.
Spain’s government has done similarly by turning Madrid’s largest convention centre into a makeshift hospital to treat 5500 patients suffering from coronavirus.
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson confirmed that talks were underway about potentially using the ExCel as a part of the fight against Covid-19, but that no decision had been made by government.
They said: “To assist NHS England to prepare for a number of scenarios as the coronavirus outbreak unfolds, a team of military planners visited the ExCeL centre in London to determine how the centre might benefit the NHS response to the outbreak.”
It comes as the UK’s coronavirus death toll is now increasing faster than Italy or China’s was at the same stage of their respective Covid-19 outbreaks.
The alarming rate of new coronavirus cases, and deaths, in the UK has led some in the NHS to worry about its capacity.
Boris Johnson has asked manufacturing companies to produce ventilators en masse to increase the nation’s supply of the vital equipment.
Health secretary Matt Hancock told BBC Radio 4 today that the country now has 12,000 ventilators – up from 5,000 just over a week ago.
However, this is still considered to be well short of how many will be needed.
The health secretary said much more equipment, including protective equipment for health staff, was being produced and circulated.
“I am determined to ensure that the right kit gets to the right hospital, the right ambulance service, the right doctors’ surgery, right across the country,” said Hancock.
“There have been challenges and I can see that. We’re on it and trying to solve all the problems.
“I take very seriously my responsibility, as secretary of state, to make sure that everybody working in the NHS, across social care, is safe, and for that they need the right equipment.”