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Covid deaths placing pressure on morgues and crematoria

According to a study by SunLife, 33.3% of all Covid cremations were carried out with only crematorium officials present.

Covid deaths morgues crematoria
Covid deaths morgues crematoria

Covid deaths are placing greater strain on morgues and crematoria as the peak of the pandemic has increased demand for their services.

Covid deaths causing extreme demand

In Breakspear crematorium in Hillingdon, north London, a temporary mortuary with capacity for 672 bodies is being prepared, while planners have started storing bodies in temporary marquees to create space in crowded hospital mortuaries in Kent, Surrey and Lincolnshire.

Lancashire county council erected a temporary storage unit for 210 bodies in a business park near Leyland in November, it has not been used yet. In Birmingham, burials are being redirected to open plots at Sutton New Hall on the north-east edge of the city. Handsworth cemetery in Birmingham was at maximum capacity after the first wave of Covid deaths.

Julie Dunk, the chief executive of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management. said: “Having been through the first phase and knowing we can cope, the biggest worry this time is if our workers become ill and have to self-isolate. It was really difficult. Ours is a caring sector. Nobody works in cemeteries and crematoria for the money because there isn’t any. People do it because they care about bereaved people and want to offer the best service they can. Numbers were restricted and it was horrible.”

According to a study by SunLife published this week, 33.3% of all Covid cremations were carried out with only crematorium officials present.

The chief executive of the National Association of Funeral Directors, Jon Levett, said: “It is starting to look very challenging. The other thing is that the numbers over the next few weeks are only going to go up as we have not reached the peak. There is a worry about what may be ahead over the next few weeks.”

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