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Council expands mortuary capacity as ‘precautionary step’

The council said it hoped the extra capacity would not be needed.

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A temporary structure is erected outside Westminster Coroners Court in London (PA)

A temporary structure is erected outside Westminster Coroners Court in London (PA)

A temporary structure is erected outside Westminster Coroners Court in London (PA)

Westminster City Council is expanding the site of the mortuary at Westminster Coroner’s Court as a “precautionary” response to the coronavirus outbreak.

A temporary building was erected next to the court on Wednesday with extra storage capacity of 112.

A council spokesman 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.

Coronavirus
The temporary structure next to Westminster Coroner’s Court (PA)

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

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

A temporary extension was previously constructed at the site after the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017 which killed 72 people.

The Local Government Association 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.”

PA