As we have witnessed in the UK, so too now in Germany, the repurposing of conference and exhibition grounds has been implemented at the center in Hannover, in the fight against COVID – 19. The flexible spaces and exhibition build know-how, meant it could swiftly adapt to become a field hospital.
Hall 19/20, usually a flexible auditorium and exhibition facility, has had its 14,500 m² exhibition area turned in to a 500 bed hospital to expand the Lower Saxony bed capacity for Covid 19 patients, with the assistance of the German Armed Forces, and the skills of the center’s exhibition builders.
The center with its central location, good transport links and technically well-equipped exhibition halls offers the best conditions for a temporary hospital, which was completed within 3 weeks.
Germany has mirrored countries such as South Korea and Singapore by proactively testing and tracing those affected by the virus. This leads to a massive upscaling of the required test facilities to counter the increasing number of infections, so a drive-in test center has been relocated from the city center in Hanover, to the exhibition grounds of the Deutsche Messe’s Hall 13.
With the primary objectives being the identification of infected people, the efficient use of scarce protective materials and the continued operability of medical GP practices for outpatient care, those who suspect they have the disease can drive up in their own car, wind down the window for the test, and then drive back home, with limited person to person contact. Later they are informed of the result by phone.
The test center is operated on behalf of the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians of Lower Saxony by the German Red Cross, with numerous volunteers and six doctors.
Such venues have had to prepare for, and perform, in an exceptional role that they were not specifically designed for but are increasingly being asked to play as temporary emergency facilities. Hannover Exhibition & Conference Center, run by Deutsche Messe, is no exception.