Funeral providers in the UK fear they are close to running out of body bags and other PPE equipment needed to handle Covid-19 corpses as they deal with “soaring demand” for cremations and burials.
According to The Financial Times, over 40% funeral home directors only have enough PPE to last three days, according to a survey by trade body the Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors of its 1,000 members, conducted last week.
Terry Tennens, chief executive of SAIF has reportedly said that If there is not enough PPE for the industry, “we won’t work”.
Jon Levett, chief executive of the National Association of Funeral Directors added: “Our advice is if they haven’t got the PPE to do the job, they are not able to do the job. It’s as simple as that.”
According to material reviewed by the FT, the London forum emailed funeral directors just before Easter to apologise that it had only received 30% of its latest order of PPE, with many undertakers fearing that the “under-reporting of deaths from coronavirus in care homes and private dwellings is leaving them especially vulnerable to infection”.
Michael Tiney, a funeral director in Southall, west London, told the Financial Times that between 1 April and 28 April, his business took care of over 100 burials and cremations, making it his “busiest month ever”. He said: “But we are treating every death as if it is Covid, because we just don’t know.”
The news comes as the Deceased Management Advisory Group (DMAG) wrote to the chief executive of Public Health England, last month, expressing its “extreme concern” about the ongoing lack of industry-specific guidance on use of personal protective equipment for those working with deceased people infected by Covid-19.