Coronavirus: Airport Turns To Mortuary

A temporary mortuary site is being built at Birmingham Airport in preparation for an expected rise in coronavirus deaths, West Midlands Police have said.

It comes as Birmingham’s NEC and Manchester’s GMEX exhibition centres are set to be converted into temporary hospitals by mid-April if required, Sky News understands.

Work has begun on the mortuary site which will initially be able to accommodate 1,500 deaths before expanding to hold more.

It is expected the temporary site could ultimately accommodate all deaths across the West Midlands, including those not related to the coronavirus, as regional mortuaries may close due to staffing the new facility.

West Midlands Police has said it is “vital that the right facilities are in place to ensure we give the utmost dignity and respect at all times to those who die as a result of this illness”.

The force added it will do everything it can to accommodate religious requirements.

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.”

A Birmingham Airport spokesperson 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.”

Birmingham’s NEC could hold as many as 5,000 beds for patients if it is turned into a temporary hospital, while the facility in Manchester could hold 1,000.

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