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Coronavirus: Wanstead Flats to become a temporary mortuary

PUBLISHED: 10:51 01 April 2020 | UPDATED: 11:33 02 April 2020

A temporary mortuary being built in Manor Flats in the Manor Park area of Newham. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

A temporary mortuary being built in Manor Flats in the Manor Park area of Newham. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

A makeshift morgue is being built on Wanstead Flats.

The number of deaths from Covid-19 in the UK has surpassed 2,000. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA WireThe number of deaths from Covid-19 in the UK has surpassed 2,000. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

The government has taken over the 334 acre area of grassland from its owner, the City of London Corporation, to provide more mortuary space during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Manor Flats site, part of an area at the southernmost end of Epping Forest, is close to City of London Cemetery and Crematorium in Aldersbrook Road, Manor Park. The building work started yesterday (March 31).

The facility will act as a holding place before cremation or burial can take place, although relatives of the deceased will not be allowed to visit.

It will be designed, built and operated by the London Resilience Forum, which manages the capital’s readiness for emergencies.

Wanstead Flats where a makeshift morgue is being built. Picture: Liz WhitworthWanstead Flats where a makeshift morgue is being built. Picture: Liz Whitworth

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The land is due to be handed back to the City of London Corporation once the coronavirus crisis ends.

Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, said: “The facility will act as a holding point before a respectful and dignified cremation or burial can take place to send a loved one on their final journey.”

A total of 1,789 people have died of Covid-19 in the UK, as of Tuesday, March 31. The number of confirmed cases in Newham stands at 287.

The makeshift mortuary will be about five miles north of the NHS Nightingale Hospital in the Royal Docks. Picture: Liz WhitworthThe makeshift mortuary will be about five miles north of the NHS Nightingale Hospital in the Royal Docks. Picture: Liz Whitworth

Under the Coronavirus Act 2020, the government has the power to demand the site for the purpose of providing mortuary space.

The park is about five miles north of the temporary NHS Nightingale Hospital at the ExCeL Centre in Royal Docks which could provide 5,000 beds with up to 16,000 staff called in to cope with patients affected by the virus.

During the Second World War the flats were used as a prisoner of war camp. The site saw a huge grass fire during the heatwave in July, 2018 believed to be the biggest dealt with by the London Fire Brigade.


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