A TEMPORARY mortuary site being created at Birmingham Airport in preparation for a predicted rise in the number of deaths from coronavirus.

The site will initially be able to accommodate 1,500 deaths as usual mortuary provisions reach capacity, but can expand to hold more.

It is anticipated 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.

A spokesman for West Midlands Police 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.

"We will do everything we can to accommodate religious requirements during these difficult times and we are working closely with faith leaders and religious groups."

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 from West Midlands Police is chairman of the strategic co-ordination Group (SCG) which oversees the multi-agency response to coronavirus and she said: "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 the airport said: "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."