Coronavirus: Mortuary extension set up in London to prepare for more deaths

A temporary mortuary extension has been erected outside Westminster Coroners Court in London. (PA)

A temporary mortuary extension has been built at a London coroner’s court as a “precautionary” response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The temporary building, which provides extra storage capacity of 112, was erected next to Westminster Coroner’s Court on Wednesday.

The addition came on the same day that the UK coronavirus death toll reached 104, with the Department of Health saying on Wednesday that there were 2,626 positive cases in the UK, up 676 from 1,950 at the same time on Tuesday.

The temporary structure erected on Wednesday has an extra capacity of 112. (PA)

A spokesman for Westminster City Council said: “We have plans in place to increase the capacity of our mortuary at Horseferry Road as part of a London-wide response to the coronavirus outbreak.

“This is a precautionary step and similar arrangements are made during any London-wide response to incidents.

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The spokesman added: “We hope and trust that this will not be needed but it is sensible to prepare at this stage.”

It’s not the first time a temporary extension has been added at the site in unprecedented circumstances.

In 2017 a similar structure was added following the Grenfell Tower disaster which left 72 people dead.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said other councils were looking at changes to the way deaths are dealt with in the light of the crisis.

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “With local partners, councils have been looking at changes to the process around how deaths are managed as part of their emergency planning, as they have done for previous major incidents, such as the swine flu outbreak.”

A London Councils spokeswoman said: “London boroughs are working together to protect and support Londoners as part of the London-wide response to coronavirus.

“As part of this, as is usually the case during a major incident, boroughs are looking at mortuaries in the capital and have plans in place to increase capacity if needed.

“We are taking these steps to maintain the dignity and safety of our residents during this challenging time.”