1,500-body mortuary being built at Birmingham Airport amid coronavirus outbreak

A temporary mortuary for 1,500 bodies will be built at Birmingham Airport in preparation for a predicted rise in the number of coronavirus deaths.

Birmingham Airport
Birmingham Airport

Work has already started on the site on the south side of the airport as existing mortuaries near their full capacity.

It will initially be able to accommodate 1,500 bodies but will later be expanded to increase its capacity. Meanwhile the NEC is being transformed into a large temporary hospital and a huge food distribution site has been set up at Aldersley Leisure Village in Wolverhampton.

It is anticipated the new mortuary could ultimately accommodate all deaths across the West Midlands, including those not related to Covid-19, and that local mortuaries could close and their staff move to the airport.

Bosses say it it vital the right facilities are in place to give dignity and respect at all times to whose who die as a result of the pandemic.

They will also do what they can to accommodate religious requirements and are working closely with faith leaders and religious groups.

As of Friday, 97 people have died across the Black Country Birmingham after testing positive for coronavirus.

Senior Birmingham Coroner, Louise Hunt, said: “We understand that 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."

West Midlands Police Assistant Chief Constable Vanessa Jardine is chairing the Strategic Co-ordination Group (SCG) which is overseeing the multi-agency response.

She said: "The SCG - made up of key agencies across West Midlands and Warwickshire - convenes every day to manage the multi-agency response to coronavirus.

“This is a major incident but by bringing all public sector agencies and partners together we are able to better deal with this challenge together and work jointly at a critical time of need.

“The temporary mortuary is just one example of how we are all working together to best serve our local people."

A Birmingham Airport spokesman said: “Birmingham Airport can confirm that 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."

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