It is anticipated that the site could accommodate all deaths across the West Midlands, should the Coronavirus outbreak worsen and the need arise.
Work has started on a temporary mortuary site at Birmingham Airport in preparation for a predicted rise in the number of fatalities from Coronavirus, West Midlands Police has said.
The site will initially be able to accommodate 1,500 deaths as usual mortuary provisions reach capacity, but will expand to hold more.
It is anticipated that the new site could ultimately accommodate all deaths across the West Midlands, including those not related to Coronavirus, and regional mortuaries may close due to staffing the new facility.
West Midlands Police said it is vital that the right facilities are in place to ensure they give the utmost dignity and respect at all times to those who die as a result of this illness, and that they will do everything they can to accommodate religious requirements during these difficult times and that they are working closely with faith leaders and religious groups.
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.”
Assistant Chief Constable Vanessa Jardine from West Midlands Police chairs the Strategic Co-ordination Group (SCG) which oversees 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 spokesperson for Birmingham Airport 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.”