The temporary mortuary has opened in the grounds of the former RAF rehabilitation hospital at Headley Court near Leatherhead in Surrey (Picture: Peter Macdiarmid/LNP)
Bodies are being stored at a temporary facility in Surrey after the county’s hospital mortuaries reached capacity amid record Covid cases and hospital admissions.
Some 170 bodies are being kept in the temporary mortuary at Headley Court in Leatherhead, which first opened in April to ease pressure during the first wave.
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.
Hospital mortuaries are at full capacity as the number of daily Covid deaths eclipses the first wave (Picture: Peter Macdiarmid/LNP)
The Forum spokesman said Surrey 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 Covid hospital patients 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, bringing the UK total to 81,431.
It comes as England’s chief medical officer warned the next few weeks will be the ‘worst’ of the pandemic for the NHS.
Professor Chris Whitty urged people to ‘double down’ and stop any ‘unnecessary contacts’ to give the vaccines time to take effect.
He said the new variant is ‘pushing things’ in a way the old variant was not able to.
‘This is a serious problem and it is rising in every part of England,’ he told BBC Breakfast. ‘The next few weeks are going to be the worst weeks of this pandemic in terms of numbers into the NHS.’
He added: ‘This is everybody’s problem, any single unnecessary contact with someone is a potential link in a chain of transmission that will lead to a vulnerable person.
‘We’ve all got to, as individuals, help the NHS, help our fellow citizens, by minimising the amount of unnecessary contacts we have.’
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