A LEADING funeral expert has called a minister’s warning about mass coronavirus cremations “irresponsible”.

Wales' Health Minister Vaughan Gething said individual funerals may be scrapped if COVID-19 deaths rise to the "top end of the reasonable worst-case scenario", adding it was "one of the most difficult things we might have to face".

But Catherine Powell at Pure Cremation says the careless language used in this statement will raise totally groundless fears of mass cremations, adding to the distress and anxiety of millions as they struggle to cope with the crisis.

Pure Cremation specialises in direct cremations, a straightforward and affordable alternative to traditional funerals where the deceased is collected, cared for and then cremated without a service or mourners present.

The simple, respectful send-off has been growing in popularity thanks to the freedom it offers to celebrate the life of someone special in a very personal way. The increasing awareness of this simple option will provide welcome reassurance to those families who may have no alternative but to separate the cremation from the farewell ceremony.

Catherine Powell said: “The Health Minister’s statement of his fears amount to needless scaremongering as we have ample cremation capacity in the UK.

“We’ve done some basic maths which indicates that the UK’s network of 300 crematoria could handle at least 25,000 cases per week – a very conservative estimate.

“So mass cremations will not be necessary.

“Pure Cremation alone could cope with 10,000 cremations this year. We can undertake 220 or more cremations a week with our 24/7 capability and are ready to support our colleagues across the nation to deliver respectful and timely cremations for everyone affected.”

Mr Gething added that there might be a "push towards cremation with memorial services in the months to come".

Mrs Powell added: “It is important to avoid a delay in laying a loved one to rest and so release families and friends from emotional limbo, and direct cremation would help prevent or at least reduce any funeral backlog.

“A celebration of the deceased person’s life can be held after the cremation when it is safe to do so.

“Families can take comfort from the knowledge that direct cremation is a deliberate and positive choice for many, and crucially, their loved ones will still receive the highest standards of care.”

In Italy, one of the worst-hit nations, funeral services have been banned altogether and restricted to a simple blessing.

Many crematoria across the nation are already refusing to take any further traditional ceremony bookings in a bid to reduce the risk to front line funeral staff and the public.