/UK now has 2nd-highest coronavirus death toll in Europe with 26,097 fatalities

UK now has 2nd-highest coronavirus death toll in Europe with 26,097 fatalities

A total of 26,097 patients had died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Tuesday, Public Health England said.

For the first time, the Department of Health has announced an up-to-date daily total for deaths in care homes, where it is feared more people are now dying of Covid-19 than in hospitals.

Public Health England has now reported an additional 3,811 deaths in England since the start of the outbreak.

Dominic Raab, speaking at today’s Downing Street coronavirus briefing, said: “It’s important to say that those deaths were spread over the period from 1st of March to 28th of April so they don’t represent a sudden surge in the number of deaths.”

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A carer wears PPE while comforting a patient at Newfield Nursing Home in Sheffield
(Image: Tom Maddick SWNS)

The latest daily figure is 765 deaths in hospital and care homes yesterday.

Previously, data was being published weekly and a week out of date as the Government was accused of overlooking care homes while focusing on protecting the NHS.

Downing Street has faced increasing criticism over the number of deaths in care and nursing homes and it is feared that the epidemic still hasn’t reached its peak in those facilities.

Number 10 said the new procedure for publishing data would come from three sources.

The UK now appears to be doing worse than all other countries bar the United States
(Image: Public Health England)

First, it would include the previously available data – from NHS England – which is based on reports directly from NHS trusts in relation to deaths in hospital.

It will also include data from central NHS records on officially recorded deaths and figures from Public Health England surveillance teams in each region.

The intention is to combine figures covering deaths in hospitals, care homes, people who die in their homes and the wider community.

There was an 11-day time lag for the Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) data on the number of people who have died in care homes and their own homes after contracting coronavirus.

Helen Whately, minister for care, said the new method of reporting figures would help Government “better understand” the impact of the outbreak in care homes.

She said: “I am determined that people living in care homes continue to receive the best care possible during these challenging times.

“Sadly, this pandemic has already taken many lives, and my heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones before their time.

“Today’s data cannot bring them back but it can help us to better understand the impact this outbreak is having on those living in care homes so that we can continue to do everything in our power to protect them.”

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, deputising for Boris Johnson, whose fiancée Carrie Symonds gave birth to a baby boy, said the spread of Covid-19 in care homes is a “challenge that we must grip”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had asked why deaths in care homes were still rising amid fears that the UK was on course to have the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe.

In response, Mr Raab said: “There’s doubting and I will not shy away from saying in front of the right honourable gentleman (Sir Keir) that this is a challenge.

“But it is a challenge that we must grip and can grip to make sure we can get the numbers down in care homes as we have seen in hospitals and as we’ve seen in the country at large.”

He said there would be no “sugar coating” of the issues.

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The Foreign Secretary said 108 NHS and social care workers are known to have died from coronavirus.

He told MPs: “The whole House will also want to join me in paying tribute to the 85 NHS workers and the 23 social care workers who have very sadly died from coronavirus.

“My very deepest sympathies are with their family and friends at what is an incredibly difficult time, and we’ll continue to do whatever it takes to support them.”

Earlier, Environment Secretary George Eustice has insisted care homes were not overlooked while the focus was on preventing the NHS from being overwhelmed.

Boris Johnson beams at No 10 Downing Street after the birth of his baby son
(Image: Andrew Parsons / 10 Downing Street)

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “No, I don’t accept it was overlooked, but obviously there was a real focus on our NHS because there were concerns that it might be overwhelmed and we wanted to make sure they had absolutely everything they needed.

“But in the case of care homes, we have always recognised that there was more vulnerability there.”

Despite thousands of deaths in care homes, the Government has only just now made testing available to all residents and staff after expanding the regime following weeks of criticism.

Those with or without symptoms can request testing.

Britain has reached the peak of its epidemic, according to health chiefs, and daily hospital death totals are trending downwards, but it is feared that deaths in care and nursing homes will continue to rise.

Mike Padgham, chairman of the Independent Care Group, said: “Sadly, as far as care and nursing homes are concerned I fear we are not yet at the peak in terms of deaths from Covid-19 and we are now the front line in the fight against the virus.

“Care providers and care workers are working flat-out and doing an amazing job, trying to keep our residents as safe as we can.

“The Government has promised to get testing to all care and nursing homes to help in the battle.

Newfield Nursing Home in Sheffield, where more than 10 residents have died of Covid-19
(Image: Tom Maddick SWNS)

“It is a shame that we haven’t had this so far and we are still waiting to see how this works in practice. But we are where we are and hopefully once proper testing is in place we will see an impact.”

Robert Kilgour, who founded and runs Renaissance Care, which has 15 care homes in Scotland, said thousands more residents will die without urgent funding.

He said private care homes have been pushed into the “last chance saloon” by the pandemic, and residents and staff are “enduring an absolutely torrid time”.

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, a statistician at the University of Cambridge, has said he believed more coronavirus deaths are occurring in care homes and at home than in hospitals

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