One in five care homes suffers coronavirus outbreak

Care homes facing rise in coronavirus cases.

Care homes facing rise in coronavirus cases. - Credit: PA

Coronavirus cases in the care sector are on the rise with 20 per cent of homes in North Somerset reporting outbreaks over a four-week period.

Figures from Public Health England show 21 out of the 101 – 20.8 per cent – of care homes in North Somerset reported outbreaks of the virus between March 31 and April 24.

There have so far been five Covid-19 deaths in care homes and three at private homes, although figures are expected to be higher due to a lag in data collection.

Care home operators say they fear the sector will become the most affected area of society in terms of Covid-19 fatalities.

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Mike Padgham, chairman of the Independent Care Group (ICG), said: “Due to the lag in collating figures, we do fear that the true number of people who have died in care and nursing homes since the start of coronavirus may be higher than these figures suggest. It may well be that they are increasing whilst hospital deaths are falling.

“Social care providers are now on the true front-line in the fight against Covid-19 and we need more support.”

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows that in North Somerset, 29 deaths involving Covid-19 were provisionally registered up to April 25 – up from 17 the week before.

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This only includes deaths that occurred up to April 17 which were registered up to eight days later.

It means at least eight Covid-19-related deaths in North Somerset would have been excluded from official estimates up to April 25 – up from six in the previous week.

This is because ONS figures include all mentions of Covid-19 on a death certificate, including suspected cases, as well as deaths in the community, whereas the main government figures are based on the deaths of hospital patients who tested positive for the virus.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that as of yesterday (Wednesday), the Government will publish daily data on deaths from coronavirus in cares homes and the community, as well as those in hospitals.

Sam Monaghan, chief executive of care home charity Methodist Homes, said: “The ONS figures are finally beginning to show what we have known for some weeks now, that care homes are sadly the most affected area of society in terms of deaths from Covid-19.

“Testing is only now starting to become more prevalent in care homes so we should start to know for certain the extent to which our care homes are being affected.”