Norfolk’s weekly Covid care home deaths among worst in England
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Coronavirus is killing more care home residents in Norfolk than almost anywhere else in the country, new figures reveal.
The weekly number of virus deaths in the county’s care homes has hit record levels for the second week in a row.
Data from the Care Quality Commission shows the virus killed 68 care home residents in the week ending January 22 – a record number since the start of the pandemic.
Across England, only five other counties had a higher number of care home deaths in the same week – Surrey, Kent, Essex, Hampshire and East Sussex.
In Surrey - the worst hit area - 104 care home residents were killed by the virus in seven days.
It is the second week in a row that Norfolk features in the 10 worst-hit counties in terms of Covid care home deaths.
Norfolk’s latest death toll tops the previous record of 51 seen the week before and is more than double the deadliest week of the first lockdown.
The county council said professional infection control teams are supporting care homes.
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A spokeswoman added: "As rates of the virus start to fall in the wider population and more care home residents and staff are vaccinated we would hope that rates begin to fall in care homes."
Suffolk saw 34 deaths in the same week, up from 27 the week before.
As previously reported, around half of Norfolk care homes have reported outbreaks – where two or more residents or staff have caught the virus – since December 1.
And despite assurances that all care home residents and staff will be offered a vaccine by January 24, until last week that had not included homes that have had an outbreak - two or more positive tests - within the last 28 days.
New guidance now says teams can enter homes where there is an outbreak, but only once risk assessments are carried out.
Last week, the county council said up to one in five staff in some care settings were absent because of the virus.
James Bullion, council director of adult social services, previously confirmed no Covid-positive patients were being discharged to Norfolk care homes from hospitals.
Instead, virus patients are being sent to "designated settings" in the county, including the soon to reopen 45-bed Cawston Lodge care home in Norwich.
Care homes in Hunstanton and Buxton have also been opened for recovering virus patients.