ONE of two temporary mortuaries in Dorset will be activated this week in response to the rising number of cases and deaths due to Covid-19 in the county.

The mortuary site at Poole Port, which will he opened, is one of two “mortality support units” in the county that can be brought into use if extra capacity for body storage is required as the coronavirus pandemic worsens – the other being The Old Radio Station in Dorchester.

The facility is part of the Excess Deaths Operational Plan, a multi-agency strategy that sees representatives from councils, hospitals and funeral directors working together to make sure the potential bereavement needs across the county are identified and met.

Councillor Spencer Flower, leader of Dorset Council, said: "We appreciate that this topic is a difficult one for everyone, but the devastating impacts of this disease are now being felt.

"Please remember to socially distance, wear a mask when required and wash hands regularly. Together we can help to beat this horrible disease and get back to normal as soon as possible, by everyone playing their part and sticking to the rules.

"We want to reassure residents that the activation of this Mortality Support Facility is being established as part of our duty to respond to the current situation and we will make sure that loved ones are treated with care and respect."

Councillor Nicola Greene, portfolio holder for Covid-19 resilience and public health at Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, said: "Sadly, this is one of the contingencies we are having to put in place.

"Our hospitals continue to be under a huge amount of pressure, with over 550 people in hospital with Covid-19 in Dorset in the last reported figures.

"The recent rise in cases in our community has meant that, heartbreakingly, we have also seen an increase in deaths.

"We hoped that we wouldn't need to use this extra capacity, but it is now required.

"It is absolutely vital that we all continue to follow the rules and stay at home. Remember that one in three people with Covid-19 do not have any symptoms.

"Only leave home for one of the permitted reasons so we can protect our NHS services and save lives."