Leading care home operators, HC-One, Barchester, Care UK and Four Seasons have reported a rise in coronavirus infections, as the pandemic enters a dangerous new phase.
The hike in care home outbreaks came as the number of daily deaths hit their highest level yesterday since 1 July.
The UK’s largest care home operator, HC-One, told CHP it had closed 70 homes to visiting due to the outbreak up from 62 last week due to a least two people testing COVID-19 positive per service.
Care UK said 19 of its 124 care homes had confirmed cases with the vast majority of these being just one person per home and most people being asymptomatic and continuing to be well. Most infections were picked up in routine testing with the homes closed to all but essential visits.
Barchester Healthcare, meanwhile, said it had seen nine outbreaks at its 240 care homes.
Four Seasons Healthcare said 20 homes were currently in lockdown with 12 residents and 27 colleagues currently COVID positive.
The care home operator said it had suffered eight COVID deaths since 20 July and none since 17 August.
The leading operators noted the crucial importance of regular testing to containing outbreaks.
A spokesperson for HC-One said: “HC-One has long highlighted the importance and value of routine testing for colleagues and residents as testing is absolutely key in mitigating the risk of the virus spreading into care homes.
“It is only through regular staff and resident testing, alongside wider infection control measures, that we can help keep care homes safe and identify asymptomatic carriers at the earliest opportunity.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We continue to prioritise care homes for repeat re-testing, and any care home resident or member of staff with symptoms is able to immediately access a free test with more than 120,000 sent out every day.
“Between 3 and 16 September, more than 700,000 tests were carried out at care homes with the average time for results less than four days.”
The rise in outbreaks came as there were 7,143 new cases yesterday, with an additional 71 deaths, the highest number since 1 July, bringing the UK total to 42,072.