Emergency service workers are training to handle coronavirus deaths that happen outside of hospital.

Small units of police, fire brigade and health service staff will collect the dead across London and ease pressure on under-strain hospitals and the London Ambulance Service (LAS).

The squads, who are clad head-to-toe in personal protective equipment (PPE), will attend houses, care homes, and hospices to confirm the death and the identity of the deceased and support bereaved families before they are taken to a mortuary.

The Pandemic Multi-Agency Response Teams (Pmart), began operating in the capital on Tuesday amid projections that around one third of suspected Covid-19 deaths could happen outside hospitals.

At the London Fire Brigade (LFB) headquarters near London Bridge on Monday, volunteers were shown how to safely put on and remove goggles, gloves, overshoes, protective suits and masks before they enter suspected virus-hit households.

Scotland Yard Superintendent Wayne Matthews told them they should not "underestimate how unpleasant this task is going to be".

He told the PA news agency: "This is a very emotionally demanding role.

"What we are asking the officers to do is essentially deal with one fatality, then another and then another.

"So obviously the mental robustness and physical aptitude to be able to do this is why we asked for volunteers, people who felt they were able to do this."

After dealing with a case, the teams have the option of a "decompression period" to deal with any mental toll.

Mr Matthews added detectives on the squads would also assess the scene for signs of foul play.

He added: "We understand people are now socially isolating, people are being held and that can obviously put up instances of domestic abuse.

"We need to make sure that in any of the mortality we are dealing with there are no suspicious circumstances."

The speed of organising the response has challenged emergency services as they prepare to deal with more deaths as the pandemic continues, he added.

Mr Matthews said: "We've introduced process in days which would normally take months to plan, test, model ... it has been challenging, but at the same time I'm immensely proud."

Currently, eight units are operating at any one time around the clock, made up of a police constable, detective, firefighter and a clinician, volunteers were told.

Where a clinician is not available to confirm the death, LAS staff will be dispatched to addresses separately to pronounce life extinct.

Firefighter Lisa Barker, 28, told PA she signed up to help ease pressure on health services and allow them to prioritise emergency cases.

She said: "Everyone's of the same mindset ... we want to serve the people of London in the best capacity we can.

"If you are in a position you can volunteer and be part of a solution to help Londoners, even at the end of their lives, preserve that dignity, everyone's happy to do that and step up."

Rob Townsend, 41, a firefighter for 16 years, added: "When I heard about the team they were putting together I put my hand up, stepped forward. I'm proud to do my bit.

"One of the challenges is dealing with the actual families.

"It's very sad, very tragic.

"We're entering an area where it's very hard, emotions are running high, so for us to go into that environment is proving quite a challenge at the moment."