France converts part of world's largest wholesale food market into temporary morgue amid coronavirus pandemic

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The French government announced it is converting part of the world's largest wholesale food market into a temporary morgue space as the coronavirus death toll surged to 5,387 in the country on Thursday.

The halls of the Rungis Market will be turned into a makeshift morgue to store the bodies of the coronavirus fatalities, as morgues in the city have reached their maximum capacity.

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The location of the new morgue space -- outside of Paris, which has been hit the hardest in the country --  "will allow bodies to be kept in the most dignified and acceptable conditions from a public health point of view," the French police said in a press release.

Rungis was used as a morgue space in 2003 when hundreds of elderly people were stored in freezer trucks and cold vegetable stores after dying from the French heatwave.

The market space will once again be open for storing bodies beginning Friday, City Police Chief Didier Lallemen said in a statement, according to reports by Newsweek.

When construction is completed, there will be two visitation rooms for family members to pay their respects, but country-wide social distancing rules will only allow 20 people at a time to be in the rooms.

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France is currently battling COVID-19 with 59,105 confirmed cases -- up from the day before by more than 3,000, when the count was 56,989.