County has to use makeshift mortuary because death toll is so high

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·2 min read

Watch: Temporary site stores bodies as mortuaries fill up in Surrey

Bodies including coronavirus victims are being stored at a temporary mortuary after a county’s facilities reached capacity.

Around 170 bodies are being kept at the site, just outside of Leatherhead, Surrey. More than half of the people died from COVID-19, according to a spokesman for the Surrey Local Resilience Forum (SLRF).

It comes as COVID deaths across the UK continue to rise by hundreds every day, while BBC News reports Surrey has among the highest infection rates in the country.

Hospital mortuaries in the county can store 600 bodies, but have now filled up. The temporary site, which first opened in April, has space for 800.

If that combined capacity is breached in the weeks to come, the county would be in “real difficulty”, a spokesman for the SLRF – which combines emergency services and local government – said.

“To put some perspective on this, during the first wave, they had 700 bodies go through that (temporary) facility,” he added.

“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 temporary mortuary set up in Surrey. (Surrey Fire and Rescue)
The temporary mortuary set up in Surrey. (Surrey Fire and Rescue)

BBC News has reported that mobile advertising boards with reminders about lockdown rules toured Surrey’s tourist attractions over the weekend.

The total number of COVID-19 patients has reached a record high in England, with government data showing more than 30,000 were in hospital across the UK on 4 January.

Official figures show around 21,000 people a day were being treated for coronavirus infection in the first wave’s peak in mid-April.

Meanwhile, the total number of people who have died within 28 days of a positive COVID test is at 81,431.

Watch: What you can and can’t do in England’s third national lockdown