ONE of Scotland's largest exhibitions centre is among the sites ministers are considering as a potential field hospital, The National can reveal.

The Scottish Exhibition Centre (SEC) in Glasgow has been identified as a possible location for the emergency unit being planned in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Of course we could be looked at as a location for a hospital," said a SEC source.

"Things are changing every day. We don't have any official to announce and at this point you can understand the sensitivity around it.

"But we are obviously here to help in any way that is required."

It is not known how many beds the SEC would have the capacity for, but according to its website it currently offers five interconnected exhibition halls with a combined area of over 22,000㎡.

Glasgow has currently the highest number of Covid-19 cases and is on course to be the centre of the pandemic in Scotland.

Dr Catherine Calderwood, Scotland's chief medical officer, revealed sites are being considered for such a facility.

It comes as the NHS in London plans to use the ExCeL Centre to treat up to 4000 people.

Dr Calderwood said in Scotland "we have had quite detailed discussions very recently and I know there are sites being considered" this week, with the country "on the cusp of that rapid escalation" of Covid-19 cases.

The chief medical officer told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland that supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) to front-line medical staff should improve this week.

She said: "I'm hearing from my colleagues in the NHS, they really are worried, and this makes me very uncomfortable, to send people to work on the front-line when they are worried that the masks in particular will run low or run out."

Dr Calderwood explained there is a "global shortage of protective equipment", saying this is "in part because the factories in China where most of these are made have been shut down for so many weeks".

But she said new supplies have been released to health and care workers this week, with the NHS also taking steps to improve the distribution of such vital items.

Dr Calderwood explained large orders for items such as masks have "clogged up the system" but added the distribution system had now been changed.

She said: "Obviously people were ordering for their GP surgeries or from the hospitals ordering many, many more masks than they ever would have before and that seems to have clogged up the system with huge orders of which there weren't enough supplies so the order just didn't get processed at all, because it couldn't be fulfilled.

"So we've ironed out that numbers problem and this week we're changing the distribution so we are going to have separate distribution lines to primary care, and separate to social care, to our care homes, and then another line into our hospitals, to really speed that up.

"I can't emphasise how much we need to prioritise making sure our healthcare and social care workers are safe.

"That will be I would hope up and running this week, distribution should not be a problem in Scotland after this week."

The Scottish Government and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said they would respond to The National's request for comment as soon as they can.