The number of COVID related deaths in care homes in England and Wales has dropped for the seventh consecutive week to reach their level since October.
The latest ONS figures show there were 151 COVID related deaths in care homes in the week ending 19 March down by 39% from the 249 deaths recorded in the week earlier.
On a year to date basis, there were 31,685 deaths in care homes in England and Wales up to 19 March.
Deaths involving COVID-19 in care homes accounted for 8.2% of deaths, down from 12.5% in the week earlier.
CQC data showed there were 28,904 notifications of COVID related deaths in care homes between 10 April 2020 and 19 March 2021. Of these, 92 were notified in the week up to 19 March.
Care Inspectorate Wales recorded 1,911 deaths of residents in care homes involving COVID-19 between 1 March 2020 and 12 March 2021.
The latest figures follow research published by University College London this week showing that one dose of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccine cuts care home infection rates by 62%.
Around 94% of 273,685 eligible care home residents have been vaccinated against COVID-19 since the programme began in December.
Independent Care Group (ICG) Chair Mike Padgham: “Seeing today’s figures it is heartening to see the death rate coming down. That is good news and we pray that it continues.
“But we must echo the Prime Minister’s ‘proceed with caution’ message as restrictions are eased, people begin to mix more freely and more risks are taken.
“The coming days will be critical, with good weather encouraging people to be out and about there is a real risk that infection rates will rise again and that is a real concern for care settings.
“We saw last time restrictions eased that care and nursing homes suffered. We must be extremely cautious to prevent that happening again. We must keep encouraging staff to be vaccinated, particularly as visiting gathers pace.
“The pandemic hasn’t gone away and is still claiming the lives of loved ones we must take care.”