Refrigerated mobile 'morgue trucks' are again in use in Montreal
A refrigerated trailer is seen parked in the loading area at the London Health Sciences Centre in London, Ont. on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. (Jim Knight / CTV News)
MONTREAL -- The second wave of COVID-19 has overwhelmed some Montreal morgues to the point that refrigerated trucks are being used, as they were in the spring, to store human remains, CTV Montreal has confirmed.
"These alternative spaces for the management of remains have been used to ensure that we store COVID-19-related remains in a safe manner," said Helene Bergeron-Gamache, a spokesperson for the health authority for Montreal's West Island.
She was responding to a question specifically about the second wave. She said the "refrigerated trucks" have been used less recently, however, so far, than in the first wave.
"This has been a widespread practice in hospitals since the start of the first wave," she wrote.
"These refrigerated trucks simply allow the remains to be stored safely while waiting for the funeral services to come and collect them. We do not always use them, and they are used less than during the first wave."
The West Island health district oversees some hospitals in Montreal's downtown. Bergeron-Gamache hasn't yet provided details on which institutions have needed to make use of the refrigerated trucks or trailers.
However, the West Island authority oversees some of the busiest COVID-19 red zones. It's in charge of the Lakeshore Hospital, St Mary’s Hospital, Lasalle Hospital, Douglas Hospital, Sainte Anne’s veteran's hospital and Grace Dart care centre.
In the spring, the same CIUSSS told media that refrigerated trucks had been put in place outside the Lasalle, Douglas and Lakeshore hospitals in case morgues ran out of space.
It didn't confirm at the time if they were in use.
In Ontario, refrigerated mobile morgues were introduced in the last week in the London area and reportedly are ready for use in Toronto as well.
Quebec Premier François Legault announced a new set of emergency measures on Wednesday, including an overnight curfew.
Hospitals have been warning they're nearing overflow and that their staff are at a breaking point.
This is a developing story that will be updated.