West Midlands Police said work is under way to transform one of the airport’s hangars and some of the land into a site that would initially accommodate 1,500 bodies. The force added capacity could be expanded further, thought to be able to hold 12,000 bodies under the worst-case scenario, if the mortuary provisions reach their own full capacity. The new site will firstly likely accommodate all deaths throughout the West Midlands, including those not related to coronavirus.
Regional mortuaries may also close to provide staff for the temporary facility.
A spokesperson for Birmingham Airport added: “Birmingham Airport can confirm it is working with the authorities to provide land and a hangar for a temporary mortuary site at the Elmdon side of Birmingham Airport, to support with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This mortuary is anticipated to accommodate the deceased from across the region, including those not related to coronavirus.
“Birmingham Airport will do its utmost to support this multi-agency response during these difficult times.”
Senior Birmingham Coroner Louise Hunt said: “We understand it is a very difficult time for everyone and we will do all that we can to make sure bereaved families understand what is happening to their loved ones and to release them for funeral as soon as we can.”
Assistant Chief Constable Vanessa Jardine chairs the Strategic Co-ordination Group (SCG) which oversees the multi-agency response.
She said the formation of the temporary mortuary site is “just one example of how we are all working together to best serve our local people”.
The chief constable said: “The SCG – made up of key agencies across West Midlands and Warwickshire – convenes every day to manage the multi-agency response to coronavirus.
NHS England CEO Simon Stevens said: “Today because this is a problem of course not just confined to London but across the whole country, I have given the go-ahead to the building of two further of these NHS Nightingale hospitals beginning at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre and the Manchester Central Convention Centre, with further such hospitals to follow.”
On Friday, UK health authorities said a further 185 people had died from coronavirus.
This is the quickest daily death rate sinmce the outbreak began.
The death toll in Britain now stands at 769, with the new deaths recorded between 5pm on Wednesday and the same time on Thursday.
This comes after both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed they had both tested positive for coronavirus after displaying “mild symptoms”.
They have both placed themselves in self-isolation, as has Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty, who has also experienced mild symptoms, but is yet to be tested.
Published at Fri, 27 Mar 2020 17:53:00 +0000