A TEMPORARY mortuary in Hereford is being used for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic after a number of deaths at the county hospital.

The mortuary was created in Three Elms in April in preparation for a higher number of deaths than usual due to Covid-19.

The move by Herefordshire Council was similar to that of other local authorities across the country, and said the facility would act as a secure, dignified holding point before a respectful cremation or burial can take place.

The council and Wye Valley NHS Trust have confirmed the site is now being been used for the first time.

A Herefordshire Council spokesperson said: “The temporary mortuary in Hereford came into use after Christmas for the first time in the pandemic and has accommodated a small number of deceased.”

The Wye Valley NHS Trust, which runs Hereford County Hospital, said: "We can confirm that a temporary mortuary is in use.

"This forms part of Herefordshire contingency planning across the county’s health and care system and we’re grateful to colleagues in partner organisations for their support as we work together during these challenging times."

In the four weeks from December 15 to 4pm on January 12, NHS England figures show 38 people had died at the Wye Valley NHS Trust after a positive coronavirus test.

The total number of coronavirus-related deaths since March 2020 stands at 121.

The overall coronavirus infection rate in Herefordshire remains lower than most areas of England.

The figures, for the seven days to January 9, are based on tests carried out in laboratories (pillar one of the Government’s testing programme) and in the wider community (pillar two).

The rate is expressed as the number of new cases per 100,000 people.

The infection rate stood at 378.6 with 730 cases found in the seven-day period, up from 323.1 cases per 100,000 a week before.

This compares to an infection rate in Barking and Dagenham of 1505.4, the highest in the country.


The mortuary was set up at the start of the pandemic to provide extra capacity to the Wye Valley NHS Trust at Hereford County hospital.

In April, Superintendent Sue Thomas, head of Herefordshire’s emergency response team, said: "Sadly, we know that the number of deaths to coronavirus will rise and we need to be prepared.

"As part of the government's response, additional mortuary space is being identified in every county. This demonstrates why it remains so important that you reduce your risk of contracting coronavirus and don’t put lives at risk by aiding its spread."

Coun Ange Tyler, cabinet member for housing, regulatory services, and community safety, added at the time: “We are making these arrangements in a sensitive and measured way to let people know that we are thinking ahead, but appreciate this is enormously difficult for all of us to contemplate. We hope we never have to use it.

"We must all do as much as we possibly can to ensure we prevent the spread of coronavirus and within our families and throughout the community.”