February 21, 2024

Temporary mortuary holding 170 bodies as Covid-hit hospitals run out of space

Temporary mortuary holding 170 bodies as Covid-hit hospitals run out of space

Bodies are being stored at a temporary facility in Surrey after the county’s hospital mortuaries reached capacity amid rising Covid-19 case rates.

Around 170 bodies are being kept at the site in Leatherhead, which first opened in April to alleviate pressure during the first wave of the pandemic.

The pressure at the temporary mortuary at Headley Court comes as record-high deaths and infection rates are being recorded across England, pressuring the government to step up its vaccinations drive.

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.

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.”

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.

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