A temporary mortuary set up in Hampshire is to become operational, it has been confirmed.
Hampshire County Council says the temporary morgue in Winklebury, Basingstoke will become operational on Thursday.
County bosses said the move was “necessary” and will “ensure additional capacity is immediately available, to ease current and anticipated pressures within the sector”.
The site will support the four major NHS hospital mortuaries in Hampshire, as well as local funeral directors, by providing temporary additional accommodation of hospital and community deaths.
The decision has been taken by specialists on behalf of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum.
It comes as last week NHS leaders from across the county said the weeks ahead will be “the most difficult”.
Chief Executive of Hampshire County Council, John Coughlan said: “While our hospitals and funeral sector are currently coping, we are regrettably seeing significant pressures within the system. We have therefore decided that it is prudent now to open the temporary mortuary to ensure that we are able to carefully manage and respond to any increase in demand for additional capacity.
“I would like to reassure the families and friends of those who may be accommodated temporarily at this facility that their loved ones will be afforded every possible care, dignity and respect, and that we have been liaising closely with faith leaders to ensure required customs and practices are observed.”
Next of kin will not be able to visit the temporary mortuary, the council said, but support to families will be available via a dedicated family helpline.
Residents have been urged to follow the rules.
Mr Coughlan added: “We can also reassure residents that the highest standards of discretion and public safety are being maintained at all times on site. I am sure we all understand why this step is now necessary. There can be no sadder or stronger reminder of our collective need to follow the rules and keep ourselves and others safe.”