A third of Covid-19 deaths in England and Wales are in care homes, official figures say
Data provided by the Office for National Statistics [ONS] shows that around a third of all Covid-19 deaths in England and Wales are occurring in care homes.
The figures show that 2,000 people died of Covid-19 in care homes in the week ending April 17, constituting a sharp rise after just 1,000 care home deaths linked to the virus had been reported up to April 10.
Since the pandemic began, the total number of deaths in care homes linked to Covid-19 now stands at 3,096, and the numbers are expected to rise.
The Care Quality Commission has provided figures which suggest a greater increase of care home deaths for the week to April 24.
Overall, the number of people dying in care homes has increased threefold since the pandemic began, but less than half of the additional deaths are linked to coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Covid-19 deaths in hospital peaked on April 8, but have since begun to drop.
The total number of coronavirus hospital deaths, which has been the number officially reported at the government’s daily briefings, has surpassed 20,000.
Mike Padgham from the Independent Care Group said that care homes had become the “true front line”.
He said: "It is taking a terrible toll. These are our loved ones - mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and friends who have been taken from us early."
Care homes have been struggling with shortages of personal protective equipment [PPE] and access to testing for both staff and residents, prompting criticism of the government's response to the outbreak.
Liz Kendall, the Labour shadow social care minister, said that "urgent action" is required "to get a grip" of the problem, adding that the virus was having a "devastating impact" on the care sector.
The government took until mid-April to announce that all care home residents displaying Covid-19 symptoms could be tested, while the British Army has now been drafted in to help distribute protective equipment.
In defence of the government’s approach, Downing Street issued a statement saying that it had sought to curb the spread of Covid-19 in care homes early on in the pandemic by banning visitors.
The official spokesman for the prime minister said: "We want to do all we can to support those living and working in care homes at what we accept is an enormously difficult time."