London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) will be opening a temporary off-site hospital at the Western Fair District Agriplex as it prepares for an expected surge in cases of the novel coronavirus.
The field hospital will open with 180 beds but have the capacity to expand to 500.
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LHSC made the announcement on Friday and says the work is being undertaken “in partnership with the Western Fair District and the City of London.” It adds that this is part of a larger pandemic response plan for the southwestern Ontario region.
“This facility will be an extension of LHSC under the Public Hospitals Act and will initially be used as a transfer facility for patients who are recovering from COVID-19 but not yet well enough to be discharged home,” a release stated.
The facility is “being prepared for readiness” but will only become operational “if and when the need arises.” LHSC has not given an exact date of when preparations will be complete.
As of Friday, April 3, LHSC had a total of 19 patients with COVID-19 at its University and Victoria hospital campuses. Five are in the intensive care unit at the University campus, and six are in critical care at the Victoria campus.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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