Coronavirus isolation 'pods' set up in Lancashire hospitals

The pods are being signposted for visitors to the site
The pods are being signposted for visitors to the site

Coronavirus isolation ‘pods’ have been set up at the Royal Preston and Chorley hospitals as health chiefs prepare for suspected patients.

NHS England has written to all hospital trusts throughout the country, telling them to set up the Coronavirus Priority Assessment Pods “to avoid a surge in Emergency Departments”.

The letter, seen by the Lancashire Post, said: “This will require clear local signposting to an isolated area of the hospital, which is away from the Emergency Department, and suitable for frequent decontamination.

“The room must contain an allocated phone with instructions for members of the public to call NHS 111, at which time an assessment will be made by an enhanced NHS 111 service advising the patients as to the next steps.”

NHS England declined to comment on whether pods in Preston or Chorley have yet been used, but it is known the deadline for setting them up was February 7.

An NHS spokesperson said: “Anyone returning from Hubei province in the last 14 days should stay indoors, avoid contact with other people and call NHS 111 whether or not they are showing symptoms.

“Anyone with a cough, fever, or shortness of breath who attends hospital and has recently returned from one of the specified countries, will be advised to follow signs to NHS 111 pods and call for advice, so they stay isolated from other patients and avoid causing unnecessary pressure in A&E.”

If diagnosed with coronavirus in Lancashire, patients would be moved to one of several specialist units around the UK.

Key information:

If you have returned to the UK from any of these areas in the last 14 days and develop symptoms of cough or fever or shortness of breath, you should immediately:

· stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would with the flu

· call NHS 111 to inform them of your recent travel to the country

· The most up to date information on coronavirus, including travel information on countries affected, can be found here.