More than 40 people have died of coronavirus in homes

Coronavirus deaths in care homes are falling.

Coronavirus deaths in care homes are falling. - Credit: PA

More than 40 deaths linked to the coronavirus have occurred outside hospital in North Somerset, the latest figures show.

But there is some indication that the area’s death rate outside hospital may be gradually falling, with weekly fatalities lower than they were three weeks ago.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the epidemic in care homes ‘is coming under control’, as he announced the Government’s testing regime would be expanded to thousands more homes across England.

A social care task force has also been introduced to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the sector, a move which charity Alzheimer’s Society said was ‘badly needed to ensure an end to the devastation that coronavirus has wreaked in care homes’.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows that in North Somerset, 118 deaths involving Covid-19 were provisionally registered up to June 6.

Of those, 42 occurred outside hospital – including 37 in care homes and five at private homes.

That was an increase of three compared to the 39 deaths that had been registered outside hospital during the previous week.

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However, it was smaller than the weekly rise of 15 seen in North Somerset three weeks earlier, indicating a falling death rate in the area.

The figures, based on where Covid-19 is mentioned anywhere on the death certificate, include deaths that occurred up to May 29 but were registered up to eight days later.

Across England and Wales, 46,350 deaths involving Covid-19 were registered up to June 6. Of those, 30 per cent occurred in care homes and nearly two-thirds in hospital.

During a recent Downing Street press conference, Mr Hancock said the proportion of people dying in care homes fell by 79 per cent from the peak in the week ending April 24 to the week ending May 29, according to the Care Quality Commission.

He said: “With all of the measures that we’ve put in place over the past few months, all of the billions of pounds extra that we’ve put in, it’s clear that the epidemic in care homes is coming under control.”

Fiona Carragher of Alzheimer’s Society, said the new task force should ‘urgently review why people with dementia have been worst hit by the virus, as well as directly address the complex needs and challenges they have’.

She added: “With the threat of a second spike, the Government must ensure that the tragedy of the last few months is not repeated.”

The number of deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales reached its lowest weekly level for eight weeks at the end of last month, ONS data shows.

There were 1,822 deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales registered in the week ending May 29.

At less than a fifth of all deaths registered that week, Covid-19 accounted for the lowest proportion of fatalities since the week lockdown was imposed.

In the week to June 6:

Deaths outside hospital increased by three, climbing to a total of 42

Hospital deaths increased by 11 to 76

The overall death toll climbed by 14, compared to a rise of eight in the previous week