Two more facilities in the UK are being converted into temporary field hospitals to help the NHS deal with the growing coronavirus crisis.
Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC) and Manchester’s Central Convention Centre will both temporarily become ‘NHS Nightingale Hospitals’.
And work has started on a temporary mortuary at Birmingham Airport with space for up to 12,000 bodies in a worst-case scenario amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
The hangar facility will initially have space for 1,500 bodies “but will expand to hold more”, according to the West Midlands and Warwickshire strategic co-ordination group, made up of police, councils and other agencies.
It is understood the site could expand to accommodate up to 12,000 bodies.
It follows news that the Ministry of Defence had already began converting London’s Excel Centre into another NHS Nightingale Hospital that will eventually have 4,000 beds in two separate wards.
It is hoped the 500 beds in the new hospital will be available as early as next week.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said building new hospitals in “very short order” was an “extraordinary action”.
He said he had “given the go-ahead” to the additional hospitals because this problem is “not just confined to London” and he said there would be “further such hospitals to follow”.
On Thursday Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson said sites “all around the country” were being considered by NHS England, which is working with clinicians and teams of military planners to identify what can be done in a “number of scenarios”.
Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood also claimed sites in Scotland – where there have been 894 positive tests, and 25 deaths – were “absolutely” being considered.
“We have had quite detailed discussions very recently and I know that there are sites being considered in Scotland this week,” she told BBC Scotland.