MASS graves could be introduced if local death services become inundated with bodies during the coronavirus outbreak, experts have warned.
Death and bereavement services will ‘highly likely’ be overwhelmed even if just 1 per cent of people who contract Covid-19 die, say academics from the University of Huddersfield.
A major increase in mortality rates, coupled with staff absences, would lead to struggles issuing death certificates, a bottleneck in funeral services and overfilled mortuaries, they warn.
Limited cemetery space could also be a major problem, with mass graves a possibility.
However, the researchers acknowledge this would be “highly controversial and would upset and anger many communities.”
It comes as work started on a temporary mortuary at Birmingham Airport, with space for up to 12,000 bodies in a worst-case scenario amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
A Local Government Association spokesman said: “As the epidemic develops, councils will review how they work with local partners, like funeral directors and private crematoria, to ensure delays in conducting funerals are minimised while continuing to treat the deceased with dignity and respect.
“Councils will also review the new provisions in the Coronavirus Act and whether the powers that might be made available to councils by government could be of help in their area.
“However, councils will initially be looking with partners like funeral directors at how they can streamline the existing death management process, so powers such as those in the Act only have to be used as a last resort.”