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Care home COVID-19 deaths reach 8,000 but hopes rise that peak has passed

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More than 8,000 care home residents have died from COVID-19 related causes, according to the latest official figures.

Figures released today by the ONS, including data provided by the CQC, reveal there were 8,314 deaths in the week up to 8 May. A further 350 deaths were recorded in Wales.

Combined figures for England and Wales revealed there were 2,423 in the week ending May 1 down from 2,800 the week before.

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Minister for Care, Helen Whately, said: “It is a relief to see the number of deaths in care homes falling, but they sadly they continue to make up a significant proportion of coronavirus related deaths and our work is not done. Supporting the social care sector through this pandemic has always been a priority, and we are doing everything in our power to ensure they have all they need to look after those in their care.’’

The ONS figures came after two of the UK’s largest care home operators reported a fall in their number of COVID-19 deaths.

The UK’s largest not for profit provider, MHA, which has recorded 359 deaths at its 220 services, told The Guardian that its fatalities peaked around April 22 and have fallen subsequently. MHA added that more people had recovered from the virus (558) than those who had died.

Similarly, the UK’s largest provider, HC-One, said its COVID-19 deaths, which stand at 829, had fallen from a peak of 31 a day on April 19 to four a day yesterday.

MHA CEO, Sam Monaghan, said: “We are starting to see the slowing down of cases of COVID-19 and the number of recoveries is now well above that of the residents we have sadly lost to the virus.

“That doesn’t mean we can be complacent. The threat of coronavirus is still present and we need to make certain that routine testing is fully in place, not just where residents and staff are showing symptoms but on a weekly basis.”

Sir David Behan, Executive Chairman of HC-One, added: “While we are moving in the right direction, we cannot afford to be complacent now. As a responsible care provider, we must remain vigilant to avoid a second wave, and our operational and frontline colleagues are continuing to work exceptionally hard during these uncertain times to help contain the virus.”

While noting he could provide no causal link to the decline, Sir David said HC-One had implemented a number of contingency plan measures, including reducing the movement of agency and bank care staff by ensuring their focus is on a single home to limit the risk of spreading the virus and adopting strict PPE guidance and infection control practices.

“It is only through a targeted and sustained testing model that we will be able to maintain the lower number of deaths in our homes and prevent future outbreaks,” he added.

 

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The author Lee Peart

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