UK (Sky News)

Coronavirus: Warehouse in Glasgow converted into morgue to fit 1,700 bodies

By June 19, 2020 No Comments

A warehouse outside Glasgow is being converted into a temporary mortuary to store up to 1,700 bodies.

The move, by Glasgow City Council, comes amid a continued increase in deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

The building, on the Hillington Industrial Estate, will be used to ease any pressure on funeral directors in the Glasgow area.

The space will have a capacity for 1,700 bodies
Image:The space will have a capacity for 1,700 bodies

A team of workers is transforming the warehouse for its new purpose at what is one of Scotland’s few active construction sites, given the current restrictions on building.

The so-called “body storage facility” is due to be operational within the coming days.

Similar measures have been taken by local authorities around the country. Moray Council has been given permission to use an aircraft hangar at Kinloss Barracks, should the need arise.

A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council told Sky News: “Like all local authorities across the UK, Glasgow, alongside key partners including the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, is looking at various options for dealing with increased deaths as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We are monitoring on a daily basis the impact of COVID-19 against our planning models for the pandemic including potential requirements for a temporary body storage facility.

“As part of this planning, a site has been identified and we are working towards making this facility ready for use should it be needed.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed on Tuesday that the total number of deaths north of the border now stands at 615, an increase of 40 on the previous day.

Dom Maguire, chairman of Anderson Maguire Funeral Directors, said an "overwhelming majority of funerals" are now being done online
Image:Dom Maguire, chairman of Anderson Maguire Funeral Directors, said an ‘overwhelming majority of funerals’ are now being done online

Funeral directors have had to accommodate a sharp increase in demand. Social distancing and restrictions on the size of gatherings have changed the way funerals are conducted.

One person told Sky News how friends and families are adapting their send-offs in the absence of a large-scale funeral, some lining the streets with applause instead.

Dom Maguire, chairman of Anderson Maguire Funeral Directors, said: “Our funeral staff are reporting a number of things like families gathering in the garden, but keeping their distance, if the hearse is leaving the house. Neighbours are coming out to their gardens or to the footpath and applauding or showing some gesture of goodwill and farewell to the family.

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“I have to attempt to balance a number of competing issues. Firstly the care and protection of my own staff, who are working in very challenging environments.

“Secondly, to try and help families understand that they cannot have the funeral that they would wish for their deceased relative and, indeed, the funeral that they think their deceased relative really should have. Sometimes they are angry, a bit frustrated, but I think they all now realise that, because of the current emergency, things have had to change.”

Social distancing and restrictions on the size of gatherings have changed the way funerals are conducted
Image:Social distancing and restrictions on the size of gatherings have changed the way funerals are conducted

He added: “The overwhelming majority of funerals which we’re handling are now being done online and by email or by telephone. They cannot have limousines because of social distancing between the driver and the client.

“The funeral party is restricted now to the hearse and a restricted number of mourners attending the funeral, either at the crematorium or the cemetery. This can vary between two or 20 people, depending on the location.

“It’s tragic enough to lose someone and I think the gathering round and supporting each other – which is an important feature of our funerals – that’s not happening because of the restrictions.

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“This is causing a lot of frustration. Going forward, I can see a lot of problems with unresolved grief. I think lots of families are going to have to find a way in which they can channel this unresolved grief, this anger, in the days ahead.”

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