Berlin calls in army to build 1,000-bed coronavirus hospital

The government of Berlin said on Tuesday that it was calling in the German army to help build a hospital to cope with the city’s expected surge in coronavirus cases.

The facility will be built on the Berlin Messe trade fair exhibition grounds in the Charlottenburg district and, when complete, will be able to quarantine and treat up to 1,000 patients.

The project was approved by the Berlin Senate, which said it should be used only if other medical facilities were overrun, Deutsche Welle reports.

Ms. Dilek Kalayci, a senator with responsibility for healthcare, said after the vote: "This measure complements the well-positioned Berlin hospital system to deal with possible bottlenecks."

She added that other hospitals in Berlin would expand their services to treat those coronavirus patients requiring ventilation in intensive care. On Tuesday, Berlin had 332 confirmed cases.

Germany’s disease control agency warned today that nearly 10 million people could become infected with Covid-19 within the next two-to-three months, if suppression measures are not put in place.

The country has suffered the third largest infection count in Europe, after Italy and Spain. As of this morning, 9,877 cases were confirmed.

Last week’s issue of the Spiegel warned that building hospitals such as Berlin’s may underline the chronic staff shortages in the German medical system.

It quoted Uwe Janssens, a chief physician at the Clinic for Internal Medicine and Internal Intensive Care in Eschweiler, who said: "In many intensive care units, normal operation is no longer possible due to staff shortages, so many intensive care beds must be made off-limits."

Schools have been shut across most of the country, border controls have been tightened and restrictions put on public and social spaces. Companies are being urged to allow staff to work from home.

Image: The hospital will be built in the Messe exhibition grounds in Charlottenburg (Messe Berlin)

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