A temporary mortuary for 240 bodies will be created at Sandy Park in Bristol by the end of the week to cope with the expected rise in numbers of coronavirus victims.
Work begins tomorrow to install six chilled containers covered by a large gazebo to store the dead on an existing council vehicle depot.
It will increase the capacity for deceased people in Bristol by almost two-thirds, which highlights the tragic scale of the Covid-19 pandemic.
As of today, there are now 211 confirmed cases in Bristol, with the latest number of deaths reported at Southmead Hospital and the BRI to be 27. The most recent UK death toll announced by the government today was 5,373.
Bristol mayor Marvin Rees said: “We’re faced with a heart-breaking but necessary task, to ensure our city is fully prepared in the next few weeks.
“Unfortunately, the sad reality is that we are likely to see a significant number of people lose their lives to coronavirus and we must be ready to ensure we deal with that in the most dignified and sensitive way possible so we can respect the deceased and their families.
“We are following national guidance, and building a temporary mortuary will be similar to a number of others planned around the country, as we all come to terms with the tragic implications of this crisis.”
Rees said the extra capacity for 240 coronavirus victims was in line with “worst-case scenarios” from the projected number of deaths.
“We will be talking to the local community and ensuring this is done in as respectful a way as possible,” he said.
“Thank you to everyone in Bristol – for your sensitivity and understanding while we make these difficult decisions and as we pull together to support the city’s response to the pandemic.”
The mortuary will be solely devoted to covid-19 victims, while hospitals have increased their general capacity for patients who have died over the last few weeks.
Restrictions will be in place to protect staff based at Sandy Park who will be offered continued emotional support.
Bristol City Council says that aside from the temporary construction work in the top car park between Bloomfield Road and Sandy Park Road in Brislington, nearby residents will not be affected and the mortuary will be discreetly concealed. It has written to neighbours to keep them informed.
Current mortuary storage capacity in Bristol, excluding funeral directors, is for 384 bodies.