Refrigerated containers have been installed on the grounds of Cork University Hospital (CUH) to store the bodies of coronavirus victims.
The has learned that two large containers will be kitted out with racks over the coming days to allow them to store at least 40 bodies each.
The units have been installed on a site to the rear of the hospital campus as part of the hospital’s extensive Covid-19 crisis preparations.
Other hospitals around the country are planning similar measures.
While the city has contingency plans in place to store bodies at a temporary morgue on the grounds of Collins Barracks, it is understood the units have been installed on the grounds of CUH to provide capacity for hospital deaths.
The containers will ensure there is capacity for the short-term and dignified storage of bodies in the event of undertakers being overwhelmed, of them being unable to arrange for the collection of bodies as quickly as would normally be expected, or of them being unable to facilitate funerals or burials as quickly as would normally be expected.
The public relations firmHeneghan, which usually handles media queries for CUH, said queries regarding this issue should be directed to the HSE.
The HSE said such queries should be directed to the Department of the Taoiseach, which was not available for comment last night.
A surge in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases is expected over the coming 10 to 14 days.
After the authorities reported 36 Covid-related deaths on Tuesday — the highest single daily deaths figure since the crisis began last month — more deaths are inevitable.
The news emerged as figures seen by the showed that CUH was treating 17 inpatient cases of Covid-19 as of Tuesday evening.
Four of those patients, almost a quarter, were receiving ventilator support.
One case of Covid-19 had been identified in CUH in the previous 24 hours. It is not yet clear whether this was a patient or a healthcare worker.
And one patient who had been diagnosed with the virus had recovered and had been discharged within the previous 24 hours.
Meanwhile, CUH took delivery of a massive quantity of personal protective equipment (PPE) yesterday.
Sources said between three to four tonnes of PPE was delivered, with items including protective overalls, gloves, goggles, and visors included as part of the consignment.
It is understood that CUH staff will use this equipment, and that arrangements are now being made for the redistribution of the hospital’s existing PPE to equip staff at various nursing home settings.