The new NHS Nightingale Hospital at the NEC is set to welcome its first patients on Sunday – as the region becomes a coronavirus hotspot.
The huge facility for people in the West Midlands region needing treatment for Covid-19 will open its doors just two weeks after it was announced, following the first such hospital at the Excel Centre in London’s Docklands.
It comes after a week of steep rises of both confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths in the West Midlands and wider Midlands region.
Government ministers and NHS officials now see the region as the next coronavirus hotspot outside London.
Work is underway to try to understand the particular reasons for the region’s spread of the virus.
It was reported there were 212 deaths in the Midlands by last Friday.
On Tuesday, the largest UK death toll in 24 hours was announced – at 786, with 3684 new confirmed cases in a single day.
Confirmed cases totals are considered to be far much smaller than the actual numbers of people contracting the virus, not least because of an ongoing lack of community testing and because mild cases can involve little or no symptoms.
As of Tuesday, confirmed cases in the Midlands had risen to 7806, with 277 in Coventry, 400 in Warwickshire, 241 in Solihull and 1372 in Birmingham.
About a third of confirmed cases in hospitals are requiring intensive care – from oxygen to ventilation – and around half of intensive care patients are dying.
Official government figures stated that as of Tuesday at 9am: “213,181 people have been tested, of whom 55,242 tested positive (not including Manchester and Leeds due to a data processing delay).
“As of 5pm on 6 April, of those hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 6,159 have died.”
The death toll has risen steeply – it stood at 1789 a week ago of March 30.
Nick Page, of Gold Command at the West Midlands Combined Authority said of a spike o deaths in the region: “Some of the work we are doing is about understanding the density of population – so we have a lot of families in the West Midlands who are large family groups who perhaps live in smaller properties, maybe flats. That may be a factor.”
West Midlands region mayor Andy Street says hospitals are prepared for the peak of the Covid-19 crisis which nationally is expected over the next week to 10 days.