Temporary mortuary may be needed in Norfolk as coronavirus deaths increase

Louise Smith, director of public health in Norfolk. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Louise Smith, director of public health in Norfolk. Picture: Ella Wilkinson - Credit: Archant

Planning is under way to create a temporary mortuary in Norfolk, as the number of deaths of people with coronavirus in the county continues to rise.

airplane take off at manchester airport, england, uk.

airplane take off at manchester airport, england, uk. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

In other parts of the country, makeshift mortuaries are being built to try to deal with the tragic toll as the pandemic continues.

Work to turn part of Birmingham Airport into a mortuary, which could store 1,000 bodies has already begun.

An ice rink in Milton Keynes could also be converted into a temporary mortuary.

And members of the Norfolk Resilience Forum, the partnership of organisations responsible for co-ordinating the county’s response to the pandemic, are looking at how and where they might need to construct a temporary facility in the county.

Thirty-one patients with coronavirus have now died in Norfolk, with a further six deaths confirmed at the county’s hospitals on Thursday.And Dr Louise Smith, director of public health in Norfolk, said, even without a rise in deaths due to coronavirus, the mortuaries in Norfolk’s hospitals run close to capacity.

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She said more mortuary beds had been created in hospitals and with funeral directors, so the capacity to deal with the bodies of those who die had been increased.

Dr Smith said that new legislation introduced through the Coronavirus Bill was speeding up the process of registering deaths,

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That includes changes which will mean fewer referrals to coroners, to allow GPs to register deaths without attending and that cremations can take place without a second confirmatory medical certificate.

if there are difficulties contacting families, the coroners and funeral directors will also have powers to register deaths.

Such measures should help to move bodies out of hospital mortuaries more quickly, so families can bury or cremate their loved ones.

But Dr Smith said there could come a point where a temporary mortuary for the county is needed.

She said: “The next phase of action would be a temporary mortuary. The early planning for that is being done to stand up an additional temporary facility.

“The Bill will allow councils to direct the actions to make that happen to keep the process moving.

“We are and will be doing everything we can to work with the wishes of families.”

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