PATIENTS with respiratory symptoms will be sent through a new corridor at University Hospital Southampton in preparations to manage Covid-19.

It comes after the latest figures by NHS England revealed that more than 140 people have now died under the care of Hampshire hospitals.

According to the data, the virus has led to a loss of 148 lives across Hampshire - an increase of 18 since the previous day.

From this week, all patients who self-present or are referred by their GP will be assessed in the marquee outside of the emergency department.

“In a couple of weeks we have completely changed the footprint of the emergency department and we want to share the positive message that so much care and attention to detail has gone into our plans and preparations to manage COVID-19,” said Professor Robert Crouch, consultant nurse in emergency medicine and deputy director of major trauma at UHS.

He added: “While it is really positive to see everyone heeding the national guidance on staying home to curb the spread of coronavirus, it is equally as important people who have an urgent medical problem do not delay seeking help.

“We are extremely well-prepared, we have planned effectively and we are here to help patients of all ages who are seriously unwell, not just those with COVID-19 symptoms.”

Patients of all ages with respiratory symptoms will be sent through a new corridor to the current adult department, while all patients without respiratory symptoms are sent to what is normally the children’s emergency department.

Those brought in by ambulance will be split on arrival, between those with respiratory symptoms and those without, and follow the same routes.

For patients who require admission, the acute medical unit and same day emergency care unit are to be used solely for patients with respiratory symptoms.

While a separate acute medical unit has been established for patients with no respiratory symptoms.

It was announced last week that adult patients attending the emergency department with minor injuries will be diverted to urgent treatment centres at the Royal South Hants and Lymington hospitals.

This does not include children, who will continue to be seen for minor injuries - including burns - at the emergency department as normal.

Eye casualty remains open for urgent eye problems while patients due for ophthalmology outpatients are being triaged on clinical need, with those who still require a face-to-face appointment being asked to continue to attend.

This follows a “worrying drop” in numbers in the past three weeks.