The Excel Centre in London’s Docklands could be turned into a giant field hospital, The Standard reveals today.

Military planners and NHS officials held a meeting at the huge venue yesterday to discuss how it could be used in Britain’s battle against coronavirus.

One option is understood to turn it into a field hospital which could treat hundreds, if not thousands of patients.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “To assist NHS England to prepare for a number of scenarios as the coronavirus outbreak unfolds, a team of military planners visited the ExCeL centre in London to determine how the centre might benefit the NHS response to the outbreak.”

Ministers have not yet made any final decision on how the centre could be used.

It comes as the death toll from coronavirus in London jumped to 148 , more than half of the UK’s total or 281.

There are signs that the virus could be spreading particularly fast in highly populated areas of London, with the three boroughs with the most confirmed cases being Southwark with 139, Brent with 128 and Lambeth with 127.

A mitigation strategy aimed at just slowing the spread of coronavirus could lead to at least 35,000 to 70,000 excess deaths over a year, said researchers at University College London, UCL NHS Trust, the University of Cambridge and Health Data Research UK.