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Birmingham NEC considered for emergency coronavirus hospital, ITV News learns

Five hundred beds will be made available to patients 'within days'. Credit: PA

The National Exhibition Centre near Birmingham could be turned into a temporary field hospital to treat victims of coronavirus under plans being considered by Whitehall officials, ITV News has learned.

The venue, which hosts concerts, exhibitions and events such as the international dogs show Crufts, is being lined up as a crisis facility to deal with the accelerating pandemic.

Officials are concerned by a rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the West Midlands.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed London's ExCel conference centre will be turned into a temporary hospital for coronavirus patients.

Officials are concerned by a rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the West Midlands. Credit: PA

Five hundred beds will be made available to patients "within days".

But the NEC site, home to 18 exhibition halls and close to Birmingham Airport, is much larger than Excel and is thought to have space to deal with the current surge in Covid-19 in the Midlands.

Officials and military planners are considering other sites around the country. Ministers are expected to say more about their plans later in the week.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know