Coronavirus: Hospital beds replace astroturf at Welsh rugby stadium

The Scarlets have offered to convert several parts of their home stadium in the Welsh town of Llanelli into a temporary hospital. PHOTO: AFP

LLANELLI (REUTERS) - Workers were laying floors and connecting electricity sockets on an expanse of astroturf on Monday (March 30) as they raced to create a hospital for patients with Covid-19 inside a Welsh professional rugby team's training facility.

With the sporting calendar blank for an indefinite period due to a national lockdown, the Scarlets have offered to convert several parts of their home stadium in the Welsh town of Llanelli into a temporary hospital.

The smallest of the three nations on the island of Great Britain with a population of just over 3 million, Wales has reported over 1,400 cases of the novel coronavirus and 62 deaths.

Like elsewhere in the United Kingdom, health professionals are warning that hospitals could be overwhelmed in coming weeks.

In partnership with the local council and health board, the Scarlets' management are working frenetically to turn the team's indoor training arena into a 252-bed field facility.

A separate lounge and spectator stand concourse are also being converted, allowing for up to 500 beds in total at Parc y Scarlets.

"We are creating bays with hospital beds, plumbing, electrics, air handling units and also doing the catering for the patients while they are here," Scarlets general manager of rugby Jon Daniels said in a statement.

"Potentially, that could be 1,500 meals a day being served, it is a big task. There are four kitchens on site and our trained staff - chefs, sous chefs - will be preparing those meals."

Daniels said the club were aiming to have the facility close to operational within two weeks.

Parc y Scarlets is one of several facilities being re-purposed across Britain to help the overstretched National Health Service cope with the coronavirus outbreak.

The Principality Stadium in the Welsh capital Cardiff, where international rugby matches take place in tournaments such as the Six Nations, is also being converted into a temporary hospital that will provide up to 2,000 beds.

"It is a privilege to be able to offer our services, facilities and a significant number of operational staff ... to help at this time of national emergency," said Martyn Phillips, CEO of the Welsh Rugby Union, in a statement.

In England, three major new temporary hospitals are being built at pace at the Excel Centre trade show venue in east London, the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham and the Central Conference Centre in Manchester.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.