One of Ireland's leading embalmers, specialising in infectious diseases in Europe, is preparing to accept up to 500 Covid-19 deaths at his mortuary in Co Meath.
Glyn Tallon is adding on further refrigeration units to take extra capacity at his mortuary in Navan which was designed to cope with a mass disaster.
He is working with Meath County Council to accept hundreds of deaths on a phased basis from the north-east and possibly the greater Dublin area and says there may be a backlog of cases due to delays in test results.
The founder of Tallon Mortuary Specialists is a front-runner in dealing with the remains of those who die from infectious causes such as Hepatitis C or TB on a weekly basis.
He has already prepared for burial the remains of some patients who have died from Covid-19 and is highly sensitive to the emotions of family members who are restricted in saying their last goodbyes to loved ones.
"Tallon Mortuary Specialists premises was built with the mindset of coping with a mass disaster so it doesn't have to be amended," said Mr Tallon.
"We are prepared and ready for this and my staff are highly qualified and skilled to deal with these death care situations."
"As a specialist embalmer and death care practitioner, I have been involved in the specialist treatment of infectious diseases and I have embalmed cases that had a significant transmissible infection that played a major role in their untimely death.
"Again, it is always the fear of the unknown that dictates our drastic decisions whether to embalm or not. All my staff are extra diligent and confident in the handling of any infectious disease such as airborne viral infections.
"As of March 2020, the Centre for Disease Control recommends high-grade masks must be worn when aerosolization could occur. I have seen documentation that states droplet precaution should be taken for routine care of patients with suspected and confirmed cases of Covid-19 and airborne precautions are performed.
"Both these documents state that hygienic preparation of the deceased can be performed only with using the appropriate precautions and personal protective equipment to prevent transmission through direct contact.
"Bearing in mind, the principles of embalming is sanitisation, preservation and presentation of the deceased.
"In our work as embalmers, that would include aspiration and cleaning the mouth, eyes and anything else that may cause aerosolisation of bodily fluids
Decedents with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 can be buried or cremated.
The reconstructive specialist and international guest lecturer has 25 years of experience in dealing with trauma and infectious diseases and believes that seeing a deceased loved one is paramount in helping bereaved families come to terms with their loss.
"Unfortunately due to this horrendous virus at present and because so many of our loved ones are critically ill in hospitals and care homes where visiting is restricted, families can not spend the last days with them
"We are working with Meath County Council on this but we can take mass capacity in different phases, starting from 200 remains in the first phase to 500 in phase three.
"At present we are expecting to take those who have died from Covid-19 from the north-east and possibly the greater Dublin area.
"Trying to stop the spread of the disease is paramount and Covid-19 doesn't die with the patient. Different statistics suggest that it lives on for several days after death.
"This is evolving so fast that we may have a backlog of deceased waiting to be released back to their loved ones due to delays in test results which will determine the cause of death.
"I have dealt with some patients who have died from Covid-19 and we have cared for them with sensitivity and respect for both them and their families"
During his career, Glyn says he has seen a number of mass disasters including deaths from a hurricane in the US
"I was training embalmers at a school in Springfield, Missouri, the founder of which was the commander of the demort disaster team when a hurricane hit in 2011
"In 45 minutes, there were 171 people dead and I was one of the main team to take charge of the bodies."
Glyn has also attended multiple training events in the UK and the US where mass disasters were simulated
"This is a new situation for everyone, but we have prepared for a mass event. In the coming weeks, my team and I will be caring for the remains of many people who have sadly lost their lives to Covid 19
"I would like to stress to families that all deceased persons that we are called upon to serve through Tallon Mortuary Specialists are treated with utmost dignity and respect regardless of the nature or death or situation."