A report from Ireland states more councils have begun 'pre-digging' graves.

The chilling reality of the coronavirus crisis was thrown into stark focus when a grave-digging operation got under way in recent days at a cemetery in Co Antrim.

Rows of graves have been prepared by mechanical diggers in Sixmile Cemetery in Antrim town as the Covid-19 death toll continues to rise.

Antrim and Newtownabbey council said it was carrying out "preparatory" work in case cemetery staff numbers are reduced due to illness.

A Causeway Coast and Glens council spokeswoman said: "At this stage we are content that we have sufficient staff to dig graves at the point of need.

"We will review this position regularly and take any further appropriate action at the appropriate time."

Preparations are also being made at Roselawn Cemetery on the outskirts of Belfast, a councillor has said.

Belfast City Council said contingency plans are being made for any increase in burials and cremations.

A spokesman said it is coordinating work with the Department of Justice and is in regular contact with funeral directors and faith groups.

"As a council we have to fulfil our statutory duties, one of which is the provision of burials. We are undertaking preparatory works to ensure we continue to meet this requirement," he said.

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