Plan for stronger lockdown on care homes to prevent more deaths rejected

Health officials’ calls to enact a stronger lockdown of care homes to prevent spiralling coronavirus deaths have been rejected by the Government.

Care homes have increasingly become the epicentres for deaths linked to Covid-19 across the UK, with the toll standing at more than 10,000 in England.

Downing Street received an 11-point plan proposing “a further lockdown of care homes” from Public Health England (PHE) on April 28, the Guardian reported.

The plan urged ministers to “use NHS facilities and other temporary accommodation to quarantine and isolate residents” and “consider whether staff can move into the care home for the next four weeks”.

The moves were not included in the action plan unveiled by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, and neither the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) or PHE denied the report.

Instead, a DHSC spokesman said: “This is an unprecedented global outbreak, the worst pandemic for a hundred years, and we have seen that around the world this new coronavirus has had a devastating impact on some of the most vulnerable people.

“We have been working tirelessly with the care sector to reduce transmission and save lives, and have based all our decisions on the latest scientific and clinical advice – as a result nearly two thirds of care homes have had no outbreak at all.”

The spokesman also highlighted a £600 million fund to tackle the spread, including by limiting staff movement between facilities, and a £1.3 billion fund to cover alternative accommodation to isolate residents.

All staff and residents are also now able to get coronavirus testing regardless of whether they have symptoms, and ministers have battled to get the protective equipment needed to slow the virus’s spread.

Office for National Statistics figures for England and Wales show the proportion of deaths taking place in care homes has risen every week.

This stood at 4 per cent in the week ending March 20, before rising to 31 per cent in the week ending April 17, and 44 per cent in the week ending May 15.


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