DEATHS from coronavirus and confirmed cases have risen sharply again in the Solihull region – while the new hospital at the NEC was still awaiting its first patient.
Health bosses said the non-activity at the West Midlands’ new NHS Nightingale Hospital showed the region’s established hospitals were coping with demand, after a month of ‘lockdown’ measures.
The actual number of people to have contracted the Covid-19 virus is expected to be many times higher – with ongoing issues with. testing, and mild cases involving little or no symptoms.
But, as of Tuesday (April 28), confirmed cases in the Midlands had risen to 18,804 (up from 11,987 two weeks ago), with 636 in Coventry (up from 399 on April 14)) and 1,090 in Warwickshire (up from 649)
There were 543 in Solihull borough (up from 358) and 2,733 in Birmingham (up from 1,884).
Across the UK, there had been 161,145 confirmed cases as of Tuesday’s data, with 21,678 deaths in hospitals.
The figures for hospital deaths do not include people who have passed away in the community, including care homes, which have seen alarming rises in deaths nationally.
As of Tuesday, 194 deaths had been recorded at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (up from 112 two weeks ago), with 83 at South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust (including Warwick Hospital – up from 46 on April 14), and 87 at George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton (up from 39).
University Hospitals Birmingham (which includes Solihull and Heartlands hospitals) had recorded 740 deaths (up from 460 two weeks previously).
Nationally, deaths in hospital peaked on April 8, while rising care home deaths were reported to represent a third of all deaths in a week in England and Wales from Covid-19.
Ministers insisted they were on course to dramatically increase testing capacity to 100,000 a day by the end of April.
The government and its scientific advisers believe a downward trend in infections and deaths shows their ‘stay at home’, ‘lockdown’ and social distancing emergency measures are working.
Ministers said it was unclear when it might be safe enough to relax the ‘lockdown’ restrictions, as seen in other countries including badly affected Spain – even though major stores such as B&Q and more building sites were already going back to work.
THE Nightingale field hospital was opened by Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, on April 16. The emergency hospital in the NEC exhibition halls in Solihull was intended to treat 500 patients a day initially, if needed.
Hundreds of contractors and soldiers worked around the clock to build the hospital in just over a week.
Health chiefs at the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust say the NEC could be expected to host the hospital for a further 18 months if coronavirus contagion continues.
Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, said: “NHS Nightingale Birmingham opened at the exact time the original data showed us it would be needed. However, our amazing hospitals have managed the demand and as a region we’ve responded well to the lockdown.
“The Nightingale hospital at the NEC remains empty and I hope it stays that way.”