A SOUTHAMPTON school could be converted into a temporary hospital to help the NHS cope with a rapid rise in the number of coronavirus cases.

The Covid-19 epidemic, which has already claimed more than 460 lives across the UK, is expected to peak in the next two to three weeks.

Now the head teacher of Redbridge Community School, Jason Ashley, has revealed that the campus could be turned into a field hospital.

The 1,000-pupil school is said to be on a list of buildings across the country which could be converted to ease the pressure on existing hospitals, which are already struggling to cope with the rising number of coronavirus patients.

Daily Echo:

Mr Ashley has written to parents and carers to warn them about the school's potential new role.

The letter says: "I want to state that Redbridge Community School is on a requisitioned list to be turned into a field hospital for poorly patients. I will write with further information as were have it."

It is not known when any conversion work will take place or how many hospital beds will be provided.

The school is currently offering a "supervision service" for the children of key workers. Pupils are sitting at computers, completing work set by tutors, but will have to stay away if the school is taken over by the NHS.

Daily Echo:

An NHS spokesperson said: “The NHS across Hampshire is well prepared for increased demand.

"As part of these preparations, we know there may be a need for additional capacity to be made available. We are currently exploring a range of options around this to ensure the local NHS is able to deliver the care people need.”

The ExCel conference centre in East London is already being converted into a 4,000-bed field hospital to be staffed by NHS medics with the help of the military.

The centre is being turned into a massive critical care unit which will be far larger than any existing facility. Staff will help those who are struggling to breathe, many of whom will be anaesthetised, intubated and put on a ventilator because their lungs have failed.

The NHS is also set to use buildings in other cities across the UK, including Cardiff and Birmingham.