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Coronavirus: Belfast firm BS Holdings offers to construct pre-fabricated dormitories and wards for hospitals

Brian Hood

A Northern Ireland firm has offered to construct dormitories and additional wards for hospitals to help them deal with the coronavirus crisis.

BS Holdings in Belfast said it contacted the Department of Health around three weeks ago.

The firm, which usually makes heating and cooling systems, said it was able to diversify to build dormitories for medical staff as well as wards for people receiving treatment for Covid-19.

The pre-fabricated buildings could also be used as morgues.

Owner Brian Hood said it would take less than a week to manufacture an eight-bed ward or dorm, while it would only take two or three days to install on-site and get it up and running.

The cabins come with heating, electrics and ventilation, and cleaning facilities,

Mr Hood said the firm would “pull out all the stops” if it helps to save people from the coronavirus. It currently makes pre-fabricated plant rooms, but he said it can easily switch.

“Work is drying up, so it is giving the workforce something to do, but its also for the local community if people are needing that service.”

Mr Hood said that BS Holdings would join forces with MAW Engineering to build the cabins, Flogas to heat and power them and Robinson Services for cleaning.

He said the Department of Health was approached around three weeks ago, but he had not received any enquiries yet.

The Department of Health did not reply to a request for comment.

Mr Hood said that the cabins could also be used as morgues, with space for 130 bodies.

Many other firms are also adapting. Retailers and food companies are taking their businesses online, as are firms from across a range of other sectors, from fitness to those helping fight the virus head on.

Bangor business Active Health Solutions had planned for its second branch opening this week, but instead has now moved its business entirely online - including pilates classes, physiotherapy and podiatry consultations.

A Coleraine-based food wholesaler has begun to offer home deliveries as it moves to the retail market. Lynas Foods’ usual customers include restaurants and cafes which have all been forced to close.

The firm said that all eight of its Lynas Food Outlets would be open for local communities, but it has also created a new website for home delivery.

It said it understood that “many within our communities cannot visit a food shop”.

Lynas said it would deliver within a 15-miles radius of any of its eight food stores across Northern Ireland.

Drinks giant Diageo is now producing hand sanitiser for health services across the globe. That will include around 500,000 litres of grain spirit (96% alcohol) for the UK and Ireland alone.

Meanwhile, technology firm Locate a Locum says it has seen a “huge surge” in locum pharmacists who want to work in order to give tired and sick pharmacists a break.

And commercial property giant CBRE, which has a major operation in Northern Ireland, is working with the NHS to find properties and premises to assist with its ever-expanding needs.

CBRE said:”The greatest needs at the current time are car parking to enable NHS staff to access hospitals quickly, overnight beds for staff and storage facilities within a 15-minute walk of an NHS hospital.”

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