The UK currently has nine confirmed coronavirus cases spread across the country. Most recently a case was confirmed in a patient who “self-presented” to the University Hospital Lewisham A&E department.
BBC Newsnight international editor Gabriel Gatehouse said authorities fear a more widespread outbreak in Britain could put “unsustainable” pressure on the NHS.
Mr Gatehouse commented: “The thing that really leaps out from what I’ve been hearing from sources about some of this planning being undertaken by health officials at a senior level is worrying about pressures on the NHS, especially intensive care unite, that they could become unsustainable.
“ICU’s [intensive care units] are already very close to capacity, they’re expensive to run, so its not a wild leap of the imagination to think if there’s a wider outbreak they would struggle. ”
Mr Gatehouse went on to claim the Government had been setting up temporary porta cabins in hospital carparks that could be used to treat coronavirus patients.
“ICU’s [intensive care units] are already very close to capacity ((Image: GETTY / BBC NEWSNIGHT)
Coronavirus originates from China (Image: GETTY)
He questioned: “So what are they proposing?
“To increase capacity, porta cabins in car parks, partly to screen patients partly to relieve capacity on A&E departments.”
Separately the BBC journalist said authorities were considering whether schools might need to be closed.
He said: “The second think that really leapt out was the question of schools.
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UK schools could be shut if the infection spreads according to reports (Image: GETTY)
“Children don’t seem to suffer very much from this virus; But there’s a question about whether they could be super spreaders then if there is a much wider outbreak people asking questions about should we shut down schools.
“The Government’s made clear there are currently no plans to shut them down but those questions are being asked.
“We did ask the Department of Health for a comment on this they said speak to NHS England.
“NHS England said to speak to the Department of Health.
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Almost all confirmed coronavirus deaths have taken place in China (Image: GETTY)