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B.C. Coroners Service deploys refrigerated morgue truck amid rising deaths

Click to play video 'B.C. morgues feeling the strain of COVID-19 and opioid casualties' B.C. morgues feeling the strain of COVID-19 and opioid casualties
WATCH: Dr. Jatinder Baidwan with the B.C. Coroners Service discusses how the sharp increase in deaths from COVID-19 and the opioid crisis are overwhelming hospital morgues. – Jan 12, 2021

As the deaths from COVID-19 continue to rise in B.C., the Coroners Service says a refrigerated morgue truck has been brought in for extra space.

The service confirms a truck has been deployed to a site in Fraser Health.

Morgues across the province are reaching capacity not only due to the pandemic but also the overdose crisis, the association said.

Dr. Jatinder Baidwan, chief medical officer with the Coroners Service, said while they are feeling the strain, bringing in the truck actually allows them to manage the situation easier and not put anyone’s safety at risk.

“The procedures we have in place allow us to maintain the standards we’ve always set when we respect and when we store our loved ones after they die, before they go on to their final disposition,” Baidwan said. “We want to do that in the same way that we’ve always managed to do. So we are strained but we’re certainly not cracking.”

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Click to play video 'B.C. surpasses 1,000 COVID-19 deaths' B.C. surpasses 1,000 COVID-19 deaths
B.C. surpasses 1,000 COVID-19 deaths – Jan 11, 2021

Baidwan added they are using this situation to strengthen their service and the collaboration they have with the ministry of health and the B.C. Funeral Association, which agrees capacity has been an issue for years but the dual health crisis is making the situation worse.

Read more: B.C. surpasses 1,000 COVID-19 deaths as province adds 1,475 new cases

“We’ve got the overdose crisis, we’ve got the natural death rate increasing amongst the elderly, and the provinces’ COVID-19 deaths, so we’ve got these three issues colliding and that’s caused some challenges amongst our members and amongst the health authorities in British Columbia,” Jason Everden, president of the B.C. Funeral Association, told Global News.

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