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Concerns over increase in coronavirus cases in care homes

Written by on 13 September 2020

Fears are growing over the COVID-19 threat in care homes as a report claims there have been outbreaks detected at 43 facilities.

The government has sent a letter to care providers warning them to “take the necessary action to prevent and limit outbreaks”.

The letter, from Stuart Miller, director of adult social care delivery at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), said: “You will know already that we are experiencing a rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases, across the UK population.

“I need to alert you to the first signs this rise is being reflected in care homes too.

“Over the past three days, Public Health England has reported an increase in notifications of COVID-19 cases in care homes.

“Testing data has also shown an increase in the number of positive results.

“Currently, the infections are mainly affecting the workforce but clearly there is a risk the virus will spread to care home residents, or to other parts of the care sector.

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“Unfortunately, in some care homes with recent outbreaks, this does appear to have occurred, with residents also becoming infected.”

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The Sunday Times said Health Secretary Matt Hancock was told on Wednesday that outbreaks had been detected in 43 care homes.

The rate of coronavirus recorded through satellite tests, used in care homes, has quadrupled since the beginning of the month, the newspaper added.

It comes as more than 3,000 coronavirus cases were recorded in the UK for the second day in a row – as of 9am on Saturday, there had been 3,497 lab-confirmed cases, slightly lower than the 3,539 cases recorded on Friday.

A DHSC spokeswoman said: “Throughout our coronavirus response we have been doing everything we can to ensure all staff and residents in care homes are protected.

“We are testing all residents and staff, have provided 200 million items of PPE and ring-fenced GBP600m to prevent infections in care homes, with a further GBP3.7bn available to councils to address pressures caused by the pandemic, including in adult social care.

“There is a high demand for tests and our laboratories continue to turn test results around as quickly as possible and we plan to rapidly expand it in the coming weeks as well as bringing in new technology to process tests faster.”

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Meanwhile, the Sunday Telegraph reported that up to 4.5 million people at risk of serious illness from COVID-19 could be asked to stay at home again.

The newspaper said they would be identified based on factors such as underlying health conditions, age, sex and weight.

The DHSC said all aspects of its response to the pandemic are “kept under review and in line with the advice of our scientific and medical experts”.