A total of 92 care homes have reported outbreaks of the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, England’s chief medical officer has said.
Speaking at the daily COVID-19 news conference, Professor Chris Whitty said 13.5% of care homes have been affected by the virus.
“If an outbreak is suspected, public health authorities will go in to do testing to assess if an outbreak has taken place,” he said.
It comes as it was confirmed that the 13 people have now died at Stanley Park Care Home in Stanley, County Durham after suffering symptoms related to the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Wren Hall Nursing Home in Nottinghamshire has confirmed that nine residents have died after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Professor Whitty said he would like to see testing increased at care homes.
Asked if deaths were recorded properly in such homes, he said: “Everybody who sadly dies, the doctor will make an assessment based on her or his view about what the cause of death is, that’s what the death certificate says in all cases.”
He added: “Doctors take it very seriously and try to make sure that they get as much information to give accurate data.
“One of the things we want to do is to extend the amount of testing of people in care homes as the ability to test ramps up over the next few weeks.
“Because clearly care homes are one of the areas where there are large numbers of vulnerable people and that is an area of risk and therefore we would very much… like to have much more extensive testing.”
Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said the lack of personal protective equipment and testing means COVID-19 is “running wild” in care homes.
Along with leaders from Marie Curie, Care England, Independent Age and the Alzheimer’s Society, she has written a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock demanding a measures to support the social care sector.
“The current figures are airbrushing older people out like they don’t matter,” she said.
Labour’s Liz Kendall said there was a “growing crisis” in care homes.
The shadow minister for social care continued: “Ministers must publish daily figures of deaths in care homes so we know the true scale of the problem and how fast it is spreading.
“They must also ensure social care has the resources it needs and that vital PPE and testing get to care workers on the frontline.”
Munira Wilson, health spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, said the latest figures were “incredibly worrying”.
She added: “The Liberal Democrats have long been calling for the staff at care homes, along with NHS staff and social care workers, to be provided with adequate personal protective equipment as well as tests to diagnose if they have the virus.
“These frontline workers are caring for the most vulnerable in our society. It’s vital the government acts quickly before we see even more care homes fall into crisis.”
A spokeswoman for Care UK, the group that runs the County Durham home, said the latest resident to die had symptoms that could indicate the virus, though no test had been done.
Karen Morrison, regional director of Care UK, said staff were doing everything they could to keep residents safe.
The first case at the home occurred at the end of March, when a resident died in hospital.
Ms Morrison said: “My heart goes out to the families and friends of residents who have passed away over the past few days.
“We are all thinking of them at this difficult time and send our condolences and best wishes.
“The manager and her team at the home continue to be absolutely amazing and I cannot thank them enough.
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“Despite all that has happened, they continue to deliver the very best care in a kind and professional way.
“Their determination and commitment to support every resident, and each other, through these very challenging times is incredible.”
She added: “I’d like to reassure everyone, including relatives of those in the home, that we are doing everything in our power to keep people safe and comfortable.
“We have all the necessary PPE and we continue to use it meticulously, as we have since the first case was seen at the end of last month.”
Among care homes that have been seriously affected have been Burlington Court Care Home, in Glasgow , where 16 people died, and Palms Row Healthcare in Sheffield where eight people died in under two weeks.