Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS, told staff that 30,000 beds would be needed to cope with the expected surge in cases. In a letter to NHS bosses, Stevens said the coronavirus was "the greatest challenge the NHS has faced since its creation".
It comes as coronavirus cases exploded by 407 to 1,950 Tuesday in the biggest single leap in patients with the killer bug in one day.
The new NHS measures will mean all non-urgent elective operations will be postponed from April 15 for at least three months.
All hospital patients who are medically fit to leave will also be urgently discharged.
Stevens also revealed that the NHS is in the process of nationally block-buying capacity in independent hospitals. He said this process should be complete within the next two weeks.
"In readiness for the likely influx of more coronavirus patients, we are going to be taking concerted action across the NHS ... up to a third of the general and acute beds - perhaps 30,000 of those general and acute beds - for coronavirus patients," he said.
Stevens also stressed the importance of keeping NHS staff well and at work.
He said that as extra coronavirus testing capability becomes available, Public Health England will be asked to establish targeted testing for staff for symptomatic staff who would otherwise have to self-isolate.
"For those staff affected by PHE’s 14-day household isolation policy, staff should - on an entirely voluntary basis - be offered the alternative option of staying in NHS-reimbursed hotel accommodation while they continue to work," he added.
Meanwhile, a frontline NHS anesthetist revealed that patients in their 40s are being put on ventilators in hospitals as he warned that it's not just the elderly that are being affected.
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