A temporary morgue is being built in Edinburgh to hold up to 100 victims of the coronavirus pandemic - but authorities hope they ‘will never need it’.

The storage facility was revealed following first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s confirmation on Thursday that there were 45 new confirmed cases of the deadly virus in the NHS Lothian area - as the death toll in Scotland rose to 126.

Construction crews began erecting the structure at the capital’s Mortonhall Crematorium at the start of this week.

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Once ready, it will increase storage capacity at the mortuary from 12 spaces to 112.

At Cowgate, a smaller, temporary unit capable of providing 12 additional spaces - taking total capacity to 100 - is also in place and can be deployed rapidly if it is required.

Senior council officials insist they are planning for the worst case scenario while hoping that the additional storage for the deceased is not needed, describing the decision as a “contingency”, the Edinburgh Evening News reported.

A number of top-level officials and senior councillors have been involved in the decision which has been reached “with care, dignity, security and safety in mind”.

Officials also worked closely with NHS Lothian, faith groups, bereavement support organisations and funeral directors.

They plan to keep families of those who pass away fully informed of any arrangements for their loved ones adding that local funeral directors and NHS Lothian have their own storage space arrangements.

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Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, Adam McVey, said: “At this moment of national emergency, in common with other local authorities, we need to take additional action to prepare for the challenges we may face in future.

“For this reason, we have taken the difficult decision to put in place additional temporary facilities at Mortonhall Crematorium in the event there are a higher number of deaths than our existing facilities can cope with.

“Our shared ambition must be that we do not need to use them.”


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