Concerns over new rise in coronavirus cases in care homes
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Concerns are growing amid an increase in coronavirus cases in care homes, prompting the Government to send an alert to care providers to highlight the rising rates.
A letter was sent to care bosses on Friday urging them to “take the necessary action to prevent and limit outbreaks”.
The letter, which was written by Stuart Miller, director of adult social care delivery at the Department of Health and Social Care, pointed out that in the last three days there had been an increase in notifications of coronavirus cases in care homes.
It says: “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.
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“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.
“Unfortunately, in some care homes with recent outbreaks, this does appear to have occurred, with residents also becoming infected.”
Last month, the social services director for Norfolk County Council said that the delay by the government in focusing on social care at the height of the coronavirus pandemic was “catastrophic”.
James Bullion said the county council came “pretty close” to not being able to respond to care needs of people in Norfolk because of the national lag in preparedness for the pandemic.
After the government issued guidelines on how visits to care homes could be resumed in July, currently care homes residents in Norfolk and Waveney can see one single constant visitor as part of measures to reunite them with loved ones.
Kingsley Healthcare, which is based in Lowestoft, has 30 homes across the country, including two in Norfolk and three in Ipswich.
They provide a dedicated lounge in each home for family visits, so after booking an appointment, visitors are escorted to the visiting lounge and can have refreshments.
According to The Sunday Times, 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.
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.
“There is a high demand for tests and our laboratories continue to turn test results around as quickly as possible and we plan to rapidly expand it in the coming weeks as well as bringing in new technology to process tests faster.”
The concern over care homes comes as more than 3,000 coronavirus cases were recorded overall in the UK for the second day in a row – the first time since mid-May that recorded cases have been above that level on consecutive days.