Search the map below for the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in local authorities in Birmingham and the Midlands.
Situation in the Midlands
While London is consistently at the top of the UK coronavirus case lists, Birmingham has the highest number outside the capital, with the West Midlands emerging as a hotspot for transmissions last week.
The government has said it is investigating why this might be the case, among suggestions that people’s religious beliefs are contributing to the spread.
Khalid Mahmood, MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, said that elderly Muslim and Sikhs in the region may find it difficult to comply with government guidelines on physical distance due to their desire to continue their religious practices.
Although most religious services have been canceled, some elderly people have reportedly tried to go to mosques and gurdwaras to pray, said Mahmood.
In an effort to free up resources, the accident and emergency department of Coventry University Hospital no longer deals with minor injuries or illnesses for adults, while the Birmingham NEC is preparing for the event that it should become a field hospital.
Elsewhere, Birmingham Airport could serve as a morgue if the need arose. The Sandwell Council said it was working “with and on behalf of” local authorities in the West Midlands and Warwickshire “on the supply of mortuaries to the area”. He confirmed Birmingham Airport as one of the agencies he had approached.
What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause disease in animals. Seven, including the new virus, have made the leap in humans, but most simply cause cold symptoms.
Two other coronaviruses – Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) and Severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) – have killed more than 1,500 people since 2002.
The new virus, officially called Covid-19, is also dangerous – so far, around 20% of confirmed cases have been classified as serious or critical. About 15-20% of hospital cases have been classified as “serious” and the current mortality rate varies between 0.7% and 3.4% depending on location and, most importantly, access to good hospital care.
This figure is much lower than the mortality rates for the Seas (30%) and the Sars (10%), but remains a major threat.
Scientists in China believe that Covid-19 has mutated into two strains, one more aggressive than the other, which could make the development of a vaccine more complicated.
What are the symptoms of the new coronavirus?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the main symptoms of coronavirus generally include:
- Dry cough
- A temperature
- Shortness of breath (in more severe cases)
Some patients may have “aches and pains, nasal congestion, a runny nose, a sore throat or diarrhea,” adds the WHO. “These symptoms are generally mild and start gradually. Some people get infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel well. “
These symptoms are similar to other respiratory illnesses, including the flu and the common cold. So if you have symptoms, consider the following:
- Have you traveled to a high-risk area like China, South Korea or northern Italy in the past two weeks?
- Have you been in close contact with someone with coronavirus?
When should I see a doctor?
People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek prompt medical attention.
But you shouldn’t go out. Instead, you should call NHS 111. Also call NHS 111 if:
- You think you might have a coronavirus
- In the past 14 days, have you visited a country or region at high risk for coronavirus
- You have been in close contact with someone with coronavirus
Use this NHS counseling tool to find out how to protect yourself and others.