UK prepares temporary morgues as hospitals are overwhelmed

Move is to prevent bodies being left on wards, or, as has happened in other countries, in hospital corridors

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 03: An ambulance leaves the emergency department at the Royal Free Hospital in the Borough of Camden on January 3, 2021 in London, England. The United Kingdom has recorded more than 50,000 new cases of Covid-19 for sixth day in a row. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)
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Temporary morgues were set up in areas of Britain after local hospitals ran out of space for bodies of Covid-19 victims.

The UK reports record levels of deaths and new infections in the past few weeks, fuelled by a new variant of the coronavirus that threatens to overwhelm the healthcare system.

In the county of Surrey, just south of London, hospital mortuaries have reached their capacity of 600, leading local authorities to set up a temporary morgue.

A spokesman for the Surrey Resilience Forum said the centres were asked to collect bodies to "avoid patients who have sadly died being left on wards, or as we have seen overseas, left in corridors".

He said there were about 170 bodies being kept at the Headley Court complex, formerly a Ministry of Defence site in Leatherhead.

Surrey's temporary morgue was first arranged in April during the UK's initial outbreak, and has space for 845 bodies.

Similar centres were built or are under construction in London and the south-eastern county of Kent.

Britain has reported more than 83,000 deaths, one of the world's worst tolls.