Care homes remain on the front line in the fight against coronavirus Health Foundation response to weekly ONS mortality data for England and Wales

5 May 2020

Commenting on today’s release of Office for National Statistics (ONS) data: Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales for the week ending the 24 April 2020, Sarah Deeny, Assistant Director of Data Analytics at the Health Foundation, said:

'Today’s figures illustrate that care homes remain very much on the front line in the fight against coronavirus. In the week ending 24 April alone, there were an additional 2,794 deaths from COVID-19 in care homes, almost doubling the total COVID-19 deaths from 3,096 to 5,890. It is also concerning to see that since the beginning of the outbreak in March, deaths from any cause in care homes have risen by 220%, from 2,471 to 7,911.

'The numbers continue to reflect the fact that care homes are particularly vulnerable to outbreaks of infectious diseases like COVID-19. While testing and isolation are important, they may not alone be enough to tackle the ongoing transmission. PPE for care workers is vital, as residents will continue to need daily hands-on care from staff who may be infected with the virus but asymptomatic, and symptoms may be more difficult to identify in patients with dementia.

'The accuracy of data we are receiving from care homes may now be improving, but with only 35% of deaths reported in care homes being directly attributed to COVID-19 it seems an underestimate of the true scale of the impact. Residents may have other urgent health needs, but may be unable or unwilling to attend hospital. It is vital that we have a timely and accurate understanding of the underlying reasons behind the continued increase in deaths which will enable us to mobilise the resources the sector so desperately needs.'

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