TC Bureau London: Funeral directors and disaster relief charities have stepped in to help National Health Service (NHS) hospitals in the UK as they reported shortages in body bags and personal protective equipment (PPE) amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a media report said on Saturday.
As medics continue to grapple with the ongoing pandemic, the London-based GMB Union claimed hospitals in Surrey, England had asked staff to wrap deceased patients in plastic sheets, the Metro newspaper said in the report.
According to the report, undertakers were now being asked to share their supplies to plug the gap and international aid workers are donating body bags that they never imagined would be used in Britain.
Michael Tiney, head of Southall Funeral Service in West London said that two hospitals in the capital have asked him PPE including disposable aprons but there’s only so much gear they can spare themselves.
“There’s a real shortage of body bags. We try to help out as much as we can but we also need a source of equipment as well,” he told the Metro newspaper.
“Every case we get called to, whether it’s in at home or a nursing home we’re having to treat it as COVID-19, so every body is going out in a body bag. I would rather not risk my staff.”
Tiney said they could only give 20 body bags to one of the hospital who contacted them, which was “as many as I can let them have” in current circumstances.
Meanwhile, Indian-origin Ravi Singh, director of humanitarian charity Khalsa Aid, has approached Hillingdon and St Mary’s Hospitals in London and has donated 130 body bags over the past few weeks.
His organisation, which provides disaster relief and humanitarian support all over the world, stockpiled about 800 of them many years ago.
“Never in a million years did we think we would need them in our own country,” he told the Metro newspaper.
Suggesting the country was “under-prepared” for such a health crisis, he added: “I think more and more people are waking up to the reality now. It’s really really shocking.”
Khalsa Aid are also distributing hand santiser, food and other vital equipment for people in need across Britain.
They were in talks with a supplier in Canada and are aiming to get 7,000 bags made to supply to UK health services and morticians.
The news report comes as the UK has 74,605 confirmed cases of coronavirus since the outbreak began and 8,974 deaths attributed to the disease.