/Half of coronavirus victims are care home residents in unimaginable tragedy

Half of coronavirus victims are care home residents in unimaginable tragedy

Almost half of people who have died with coronavirus in Europe were residents in long-term care facilities, the World Health Organisation says.

Dr Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe, said it was a “deeply concerning picture” regarding those in care.

He told reporters on Thursday: “According to estimates from countries in the European region, up to half of those who have died from Covid-19 were resident in long-term care facilities.

“This is an unimaginable human tragedy.”

In the UK, there were fears that many thousands of care home residents had died so far after contracting Covid-19.

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Staff wear personal protective equipment at the Oak Springs care home in Liverpool
(Image: Liverpool Echo)

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Tuesday that the number of deaths in care homes had quadrupled in a week to 1,043.

Another 1,000 could have died in the five days after that, the Care Quality Commission said.

In Scotland, 41 per cent of Covid-19 deaths last week occurred in care homes.

A Financial Times analysis of ONS data suggested that the pandemic had already caused as many as 41,000 deaths in the UK – more than double the Department of Health’s official count of hospital deaths.

The Department of Health’s death toll, which does not include fatalities in care homes, private homes or hospices, stood at 18,100 at 5pm on Tuesday, the most recent figure available on Thursday morning.

Of all deaths reported in the UK, 24 per cent normally occur in care homes.

The Financial Times analysis suggests that just under 11,000 more people than normal have died in residential care since the start of the outbreak.

The ONS has asked Public Health England to investigate why care home deaths were soaring.

Staff care for a patient at the Newfield Nursing Home in Sheffield
(Image: Sky News)

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has said a “high mortality rate” is likely in care homes.

Figures showing more than 1,000 people have died with Covid-19 in the facilities are likely to be an “underestimate” because residents were a vulnerable group, he added.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has promised to address the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on care homes and increase testing.

Professor Whitty told reporters on Wednesday it was important to look at all deaths in care homes in data for a “true picture”, taking into account direct deaths caused by the virus as well as indirect deaths.

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He added: “When we look back over this epidemic, and I want to be really clear, we are not anywhere near being able to say, ‘right, that’s done, we can look back’.

“When we are at that stage, I am sure we will see a high mortality rate sadly in care homes, because this is a very, very vulnerable group.

“And people are coming in and out of care homes and that cannot, to some extent, be prevented.”

One care boss says his group alone has suffered hundreds of deaths.

Jeremy Richardson, chief executive of Four Seasons Health Care, says 240 residents had died of confirmed or suspected Covid-19 across its 187 homes.

Suspected cases have been recorded in 60 per cent of its residences, and 1,400 staff – representing around 11 per cent of the total workforce – were in isolation.

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