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Coronavirus: Hundreds of unreported deaths in UK care homes

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  • Hundreds of UK coronavirus deaths are not being included in the government’s official figures.
  • Care providers say hundreds of elderly people are dying in care homes from the COVID-19 disease.
  • However, these are not being reflected in the daily figures, they say.
  • Care England estimates up to 1,000 elderly people in care homes have died after catching the virus.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Hundreds of elderly people are dying in care homes after catching the coronavirus but not being included in the UK’s official death toll.

The UK government’s Department of Health & Social Care releases new figures every day on new cases of the coronavirus and how many have died after testing positive for it.

7,097 people in the UK had died after catching the virus as of Thursday, April 9.

However, UK care providers have suggested that the actual number is significantly larger, as hundreds of deaths taking place in care homes are not being included in the government’s official figures.

Care England, the body representing care homes across the UK, estimates that up to 1,000 people in care homes have died after catching the COVID-19 virus, The Guardian newspaper reports.

But the official figure is much lower.

The Office for National Statistics most up-to-date figures say just 20 people died in care homes in the week ending on Friday, March 27. 

The Guardian adds that two networks of care homes have together recorded a combined total of 208 deaths in the last three weeks.

“We are seeing underreporting of the number of deaths,” Care UK Chief Executive Professor Martin Green said.

“Deaths might not be in the thousands yet, but it is coming up to that level,” he said.

“We need a proper analysis of death rates occurring across care homes, and the government should be collecting this data.”

Over 400,000 elderly Brits are currently in care homes. The Guardian report says care providers believe the coronavirus, which is particularly dangerous for the elderly, is active in around half of these settings.

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The logo of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

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The UK government is under pressure to make sure more personal protective equipment (PPE) is delivered to care homes, and that care homes are among the first places to receive tests when they are rolled out more widely across the country.

Government officials believe the UK will hit the peak of the pandemic in mid-April, meaning there are likely to be thousands more deaths linked to the virus in the coming days.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health & Social Care said: “We are determined to give the social care sector the support it needs to respond to coronavirus and continue to work closely with Public Health England to monitor the impact on cares homes.

“The government has announced £2.9bn to help local authorities respond to pressures in key services, such as adult social care, and enhance the NHS discharge service, allowing patients to return home safely.

“We have published extensive guidance for care homes on admitting and caring for people during the outbreak, and we are reinstating the professional registration of 8,000 former social workers to fill vital roles in the community.

“We have also delivered 7.8m pieces of PPE to more than 26,000 care settings across the country and are rapidly working to extend testing to social care workers.”

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