A temporary morgue the size of two football pitches is being built to help manage the UK’s growing death toll amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Construction work is currently underway on Wanstead Flats, in Manor Park, London, just a few miles away from the new NHS Nightingale Hospital, which is has been built inside the ExCel convention centre. It is also close to the City of London crematorium and cemetery.
The morgue will be used as a holding place for the dead before they are cremated or buried. It is expected to be opened within a few weeks.
Newham Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz told residents near the site in a letter: ‘The facility will act as a holding point before a respectful and dignified cremation or burial can take place to send a loved one on their final journey.’
She added that the morgue is part of the ‘government’s response’ to the rising number of deaths from coronavirus. The letter noted that relatives of the dead would not be allowed to visit the mortuary.
So far 2,352 people have died after testing positive for COVID-19 in the UK, following 563 further deaths. There are 29,474 cases of the virus across the country.
The new 4,000-bed NHS Nightingale is preparing to open to patients this week just seven days after work began on the site. Building work on the morgue started on Tuesday, but some residents nearby are unsure about its close proximity to their homes.
Retired journalist Joe Clancy, 68, told Mail Online he thought it would be ‘pretty depressing’ living next to a mortuary, but said he understood ‘these are extremely difficult times’.
He continued: ‘It looks as if it can hold tens of thousands of bodies, and that is very frightening.
‘Everyone around here is astonished at the speed it went up. Lorries and vans started arriving before nine in the morning and by mid-afternoon the area had been completely fenced off.
‘People are concerned about the noise from generators that may be used to keep the bodies cool, and the disturbance from floodlighting and extra traffic the facility will cause.’