An exhibition centre is to become a temporary hospital where more than 2,000 beds will be provided in a bid to prevent further cases of coronavirus in the UK.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the NHS New Nightingale hospital is to be opened at London ExCeL centre, by the Royal Victoria Dock, in Canning Town, east London.

The hospital will consist of two wards and hold up to 4,000 patients.

The armed forces have been involved in the logistics and Mr Hancock said it had been "literally a military effort to get these millions of pieces of kit out to people".

"If people are working on the front line to look after us, it's vital that we look after them."

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In response to the UK's call for retired medics to return to the NHS, Mr Hancock says more than 11,500 have come forward, including 2,660 doctors and 6,147 nurses.

He added that more than 18,000 medical students will also join the NHS workforce.

A further 250,000 NHS volunteers are being called to help national health service employees with "shopping, delivery of medicines and to support those who are shielded.

Epping Forest Guardian:

Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaking during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19)

Mr Hancock tells NHS and social care staff they are "the frontline in the war against this virus" and said that he will "strain every sinew" to keep them safe.

It comes after criticism that healthcare staff do not have adequate protective equipment, a total of 422 people have died in the UK after being tested for coronavirus as of Tuesday, March 24.

He also said the UK had bought 3.5 million antibody tests to show whether people have had the virus.

"I understand why NHS staff, in particular, and others across public service are so keen to get the testing ramped up, that we need to see and that we are undertaking," he said.

"Of course it really matters for getting people getting back to work, so we have now bought 3.5 million antibody tests.

"That will allow people to see whether they have had the virus and are immune to it and then can get back to work."

An additional 7.5 million pieces of protective equipment including facemasks had been shipped out in the last 24 hours.

A hotline would allow NHS and care staff to request personal protective equipment if they did not have it.

Finally, MR Hancock also revealed that a coronavirus testing facility in Milton Keynes has opened today (Tuesday, March 24).