Temporary mortuary holds 170 bodies due to Covid

Dead bodies are being kept at a temporary mortuary in Surrey after the county’s hospital reached capacity amid rising Covid case rates.   

Some 170 bodies are being kept in the temporary mortuary at Headley Court in Leatherhead, which first opened in April to alleviate pressure during the first wave of the pandemic.

Similar temporary mortuaries have also been built in Lincolnshire and Lancashire.  

More than half of those kept at the Surrey facility died with coronavirus, a 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 845.

Some 170 bodies are being kept in the temporary mortuary (pictured) at Headley Court in Leatherhead, which first opened in April to alleviate pressure during the first wave of the pandemic

Some 170 bodies are being kept in the temporary mortuary (pictured) at Headley Court in Leatherhead, which first opened in April to alleviate pressure during the first wave of the pandemic

Some 170 bodies are being kept in the temporary mortuary (pictured) at Headley Court in Leatherhead, which first opened in April to alleviate pressure during the first wave of the pandemic

The county's hospital mortuaries have the capacity to store 600 bodies but are currently full, while the temporary facility (pictured) has room for 845

The county's hospital mortuaries have the capacity to store 600 bodies but are currently full, while the temporary facility (pictured) has room for 845

 The county’s hospital mortuaries have the capacity to store 600 bodies but are currently full, while the temporary facility (pictured) has room for 845

More than half of those kept at the facility died with coronavirus, a Surrey Local Resilience Forum spokesman said. Pictured: The county's hospital

More than half of those kept at the facility died with coronavirus, a Surrey Local Resilience Forum spokesman said. Pictured: The county's hospital

More than half of those kept at the facility died with coronavirus, a Surrey Local Resilience Forum spokesman said. Pictured: The county’s hospital 

The Surrey Local Resilience Forum spokesman said the county would be left in ‘real difficulty’ if the 1,445 capacity is exceeded in the coming weeks.

He said: ‘To put some perspective on this, during the first wave, they had 700 bodies go through that (temporary) facility.

‘The first wave lasted approximately 12 weeks from mid-March to mid-May.

‘Since December 21, after just two-and-a-half weeks, they have had 300 bodies go through it.’

Jerry Kirkby, who works for the Surrey Local Resilience Forum told the BBC: ‘The numbers have increased dramatically and rapidly over the last two and a half weeks and that is causing us some concern.’ 

He added that there are no signs that the number of infections will decrease and that the emergency mortuary is ‘testament’ to how people are ‘failing’ to stick to government guidelines. 

Firemen and police officers have been brought in to help at the emergency facility. 

Pictured: The tented temporary mortuary facility at Headley Court near Leatherhead

Pictured: The tented temporary mortuary facility at Headley Court near Leatherhead

Pictured: The tented temporary mortuary facility at Headley Court near Leatherhead 

More than half of those kept at the facility died with coronavirus, a Surrey Local Resilience Forum spokesman said. Pictured: BBC home editor Mark Easton at the temporary site

More than half of those kept at the facility died with coronavirus, a Surrey Local Resilience Forum spokesman said. Pictured: BBC home editor Mark Easton at the temporary site

More than half of those kept at the facility died with coronavirus, a Surrey Local Resilience Forum spokesman said. Pictured: BBC home editor Mark Easton at the temporary site

The number of patients with Covid-19 in hospital has reached a record high in England. Pictured: Defence medical rehabilitation centre at Headley Court in Surrey

The number of patients with Covid-19 in hospital has reached a record high in England. Pictured: Defence medical rehabilitation centre at Headley Court in Surrey

The number of patients with Covid-19 in hospital has reached a record high in England. Pictured: Defence medical rehabilitation centre at Headley Court in Surrey 

One worker, Kirsty Walker – a detective on Surrey’s murder squad – said: ‘It’s been a dreadful year for everyone. However, working here I can see the numbers are increasing not decreasing.’ 

It comes as a temporary mortuary on a former RAF site is being used in Lincolnshire.

The site, at Woodhall Spa was constructed during the first wave of coronavirus earlier this year. 

More than 300 deaths were recorded in the county in the second week of December – twice the area’s usual death rate.   

The Lincolnshire Resilience Forum, which co-ordinates action between public bodies, said the move was necessary due to there being ‘less capacity at crematoria’.

And another temporary mortuary, with the capacity to house up to 210 bodies, went under construction in mid-November. 

It comes as a temporary mortuary on a former RAF site is being used in Lincolnshire. The site, at Woodhall Spa (pictured) was constructed during the first wave of coronavirus earlier this year

It comes as a temporary mortuary on a former RAF site is being used in Lincolnshire. The site, at Woodhall Spa (pictured) was constructed during the first wave of coronavirus earlier this year

It comes as a temporary mortuary on a former RAF site is being used in Lincolnshire. The site, at Woodhall Spa (pictured) was constructed during the first wave of coronavirus earlier this year

The facility will be constructed on the car park of the Farington Environmental Education Centre at Lancashire Enterprise Business Park near Leyland.  

County Councillor Geoff Driver CBE, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: ‘I hope this facility will never need to be used and that we’ll be able to cope without it as we did during the first wave of the pandemic.

‘However, we can’t predict what will happen over the winter and it’s vital that we’re prepared in order to ensure the deceased are treated decently and with respect.’ 

The number of patients with Covid-19 in hospital has reached a record high in England, while the official coronavirus death toll for the UK passed 80,000 at the weekend and lab-confirmed cases hit more than three million.

As of Sunday, a further 563 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the UK total to 81,431.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 97,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.

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