The seventh temporary mortuary has been set up in Britain to cope with the ‘significant pressures’ created by the number of coronavirus deaths.
An overflow mortuary is being set up in Winklebury, Basingstoke, Hampshire to provide extra capacity amid the ongoing pandemic.
The new facility will become operational on Thursday to support the four major NHS hospital mortuaries across the county.
Hampshire Council said the newly-built facility acted as a ‘sad and strong reminder’ of how the pandemic is affecting thousands of lives as he urged people to follow Covid-19 rules.
It comes as Britain announced a record 1,610 new Covid deaths in the country’s deadliest day of the pandemic so far.
An overflow mortuary is being set up in Winklebury, Basingstoke, Hampshire to provide extra capacity amid the ongoing pandemic (pictured: general view of the unused retail site which will be used)
It’s the third time in 2021 that Britain has recorded a record number of daily fatalities, as the nation battles with the super-infectious Kent strain and hospitals juggle winter pressures.
There were also 33,355 new infections announced in the past 24 hours.
John Coughlan, chief executive of Hampshire County Council, said the newly-built facility acted as a ‘sad and strong reminder’ of how the pandemic is affecting thousands of lives as he urged people to follow Covid-19 rules
John Coughlan, chief executive of Hampshire County Council, said: ‘While our hospitals and funeral sector are currently coping, we are regrettably seeing significant pressures within the system.
‘We have therefore decided that it is prudent now to open the temporary mortuary to ensure that we are able to carefully manage and respond to any increase in demand for additional capacity.
‘I would like to reassure the families and friends of those who may be accommodated temporarily at this facility that their loved ones will be afforded every possible care, dignity and respect, and that we have been liaising closely with faith leaders to ensure required customs and practices are observed.’
He added: ‘I am sure we all understand why this step is now necessary.
‘There can be no sadder or stronger reminder of our collective need to follow the rules and keep ourselves and others safe.’
The facility in Hampshire follows emergency morgues being set up at RAF Coltishall in Norwich; Headley Court in Leatherhead, Surrey and Waterside Industrial Park in Leeds.
Inside one of the storage units at the overflow mortuary at Breakspear Crematorium in Ruislip, West London
The overflow mortuary at Breakspear Crematorium provide an extra 20 per cent capacity for public mortuaries in London
Storage units at Breakspear Crematorium which aims to help relieve pressure on hospitals and council-run morgues
There have also been additional facilities set up at Salisbury Hospital in Wiltshire, and Aylesford Temporary Place of Rest in Kent.
Another temporary mortuary opened up just last week at Breakspear Crematorium in Ruslip, West London.
Where have temporary morgues been set up?
- Breakspear Crematorium in Ruislip, West London
- RAF Coltishall in Norwich, Norfolk
- Headley Court in Leatherhead, Surrey
- Waterside Industrial Park in Leeds
- Salisbury Hospital in Wiltshire
- Aylesford Temporary Place of Rest in Kent
- Winklebury, Basingstoke, in Hampshire
The storage units at the £3.2million facility has been set up in large temporary structures.
The overflow morgue can hold up to 1,300 bodies in total, with the site intended to help relieve pressure on hospitals and council-run morgues.
The mortuary can currently hold 217 bodies, but will reach a capacity of 1,300 once building works are completed this week.
The National Association of Funeral Directors said mortuaries across the UK were becoming ‘very tight on space’, adding that members had been ‘extremely busy’ as pressure on the industry ramped up in recent weeks.
A spokesperson today told Mail Online: ‘There are huge pressures on the system at the moment and they’ve just announced the highest daily death rate of the pandemic.
‘It’s a very busy time and it’s really important that local councils and resilience forums have got the facilities they need to be able to care for everyone that has died at the moment.
‘It’s about keeping everything running smoothly.’
During the first wave of the pandemic, four temporary mortuaries were built in London to provide extra capacity.
In Norfolk, a temporary mortuary set up in a former aircraft hangar at the old RAF Coltishall is now being used by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, having not been required during the first wave of the pandemic.
It comes as Britain announced a record 1,610 new Covid deaths in the country’s deadliest day of the pandemic so far
There were also 33,355 new infections announced in the past 24 hours
Meanwhile bodies are being stored at a temporary facility in Surrey after the county’s hospital mortuaries reached capacity amid rising Covid-19 case rates.
Some 170 bodies are being kept in the temporary mortuary at the former military hospital Headley Court in Leatherhead, which first opened in April to alleviate pressure during the first wave of the pandemic.
More than half of those kept at the facility died with coronavirus, a Surrey Local Resilience Forum spokesman said.
The county’s hospital mortuaries have the capacity to store 600 bodies but are currently full, while the temporary facility has room for 800.
The Surrey Local Resilience Forum spokesman said the county would be left in ‘real difficulty’ if the 1,400 capacity is exceeded in the coming weeks.