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Temporary mortuary to hold 900 bodies created in Cornwall

Temporary mortuary to hold 900 bodies created in Cornwall

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 6:00am 23rd April 2020. (Updated at 7:19am 23rd April 2020)

Written by Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

A temporary mortuary which can hold up to 900 bodies has been set up at Newquay airport in case it is needed during the coronavirus crisis.

The facility was put in place by Cornwall Council which has also prepared additional graves to cope with the higher number of deaths than usual which could be caused by the virus.

Last week council chief executive Kate Kennally said the council had taken the measures in line with other local authorities but stressed that it was hoped that they would not be required.

Details of the mortuary were included in a briefing that Rob Rotchell, council Cabinet member for adults, provided for his local town council in Camelford regarding coronavirus.

In it he states: “Some decisions are difficult, the support to provide extra mortuary facilities in a hangar on the Cornwall Airport Newquay site for 900 bodies and the agreement to prepare graves across Cornwall is a stark reminder of the seriousness of the situation.

“Although the infection rate in Cornwall is slower than in other parts of the UK I have made a number of appearances on TV and regularly on the radio to advise everyone to continue to follow the Government’s advice on social isolation and social distancing and the need to wash your hands diligently and regularly.”

In his note Cllr Rotchell says that the “past few weeks have been as busy as I can remember as a Cornwall councillor” and speaks of being “in the heart of preparing plans and actions for dealing with the Covid-19 virus”.

He adds: “Cornwall was fortunate in some respects in being able to observe what other areas were doing as the virus spread more quickly outside Cornwall.”

Some of the actions taken include making beds available in community hospitals, launching a recruitment drive for social care staff and co-ordinating volunteers. Cllr Rotchell also highlights the council working with hotels to provide beds for patients who could be discharged from hospital.

The Cabinet member also says that he has provided £200 from his community chest to Camelford Food Bank and will consider applications from other groups for help.

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