Bodies will be treated with the ‘utmost dignity and respect’, West Midlands Police said in a statement
A temporary funeral home is being set up at Birmingham Airport as a major aspect of the territorial reaction to the coronavirus pandemic.
Work is under way to turn a hangar and land into a site to initially accommodate 1,500 bodies, West Midlands Police said today, Friday, March 27.
Capacity could be expanded if usual mortuary provisions reach capacity, officers said.
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.
Police said the bodies dealt with would be treated with the “utmost dignity and respect at all times”.
The force said everything possible would be done to accommodate religious requirements and it was 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 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.”
An airport spokesperson 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