Care home coronavirus cases ‘quadruple in a month’ as second wave fears grow

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care homes were badly hit by coronavirus earlier in the pandemic
The virus tore through care homes earlier in the pandemic (Picture: Getty)

Concern is rising over a spike in coronavirus cases in UK care homes, as fears grow that the country could be seeing the beginning of a second wave.

Cases in the care sector have reportedly quadrupled since the start of the month, with outbreaks detected in 43 homes – months after Covid-19 ravaged the sector and left thousands of elderly residents dead. An estimated 1,100 cases are being reported each day. The Government has alerted care providers in an effort to highlight the rising rates and call for action.

In a letter, sent on Friday, care bosses are urged to ‘take the necessary action to prevent and limit outbreaks’, pointing out that in the last three days there had been an increase in notifications of coronavirus cases in care homes. At the moment, it is thought that the workforce that is most affected, but the letter says that ‘clearly’ there is a risk that the virus will spread to residents and in some cases already has.

The letter, from Stuart Miller, director of adult social care delivery at the Department of Health and Social Care, reads: ‘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 (PHE) 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.’ Mr Miller continued: ‘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.

Dawn, a carer from Elite Care Solutions tends to her client Tina, who suffers with Multiple Sclerosis and is considered in the high risk category during the current novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, during a home visit in Scunthorpe, northern England on May 8, 2020.

‘Unfortunately, in some care homes with recent outbreaks, this does appear to have occurred, with residents also becoming infected.’ A Department of Health report marked ‘official sensitive’ and circulated on Friday said that the rate of coronavirus recorded through satellite tests – which are used in care homes – had quadrupled since the start of the month, according to The Sunday Times. The newspaper also said that Health Secretary Matt Hancock was given an emergency update on Wednesday saying that outbreaks had been detected in 43 care homes. A Department of Health and Social Care 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 £600 million to prevent infections in care homes, with a further £3.7 billion available to councils to address pressures caused by the pandemic, including in adult social care.