Around a third of residents in a Liverpool care home have died after showing tell-tale coronavirus symptoms.
Paisley Court Care Home, in Dovecot, which can care for up to 60 elderly residents, has recorded at least suspected 20 deaths.
Parent company Care UK said the deaths included those who had shown symptoms but never confirmed to have the virus.
It blamed a lack of ‘meaningful levels of testing’ in the sector for uncertainty – routine testing was not available until April 15, by which time it was too late for thousands.
More than 12,000 deaths – around a quarter of the total number of coronavirus victims in the UK – have been in care homes, official figures show.
Four out of every 10 care homes in the country say they have had cases at some point.
Officials have come under fire for not offering enough support to care home staff and residents at the beginning of the outbreak, which they deny.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland sparked fury today by admitting that ministers ‘chose’ to protect the NHS over care homes because there was not enough coronavirus testing capacity.
Paisley Court Care Home, in Dovecot, today confirmed 20 residents had died after showing coronavirus symptoms, making it one of the worst hit care homes of the pandemic
ONS data yesterday showed that 9,980 people had died in care homes in England and Wales by May 8, and a further 1,411 happened between then and May 15, according to the Care Quality Commission and Care Inspectorate Wales
Paisley Court offers nursing care to older people living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, and those with complex care needs.
The home confirmed 16 of the 20 residents who passed away died at the care home, while the remaining four died in hospital.
A statement from parent company Care UK said the 20 includes residents who were not tested but were displaying coronavirus symptoms before they died.
They did not say how many had definitely been confirmed positive.
A Care UK spokesperson said: ‘Sadly, 20 residents from Paisley Court care home have passed away having shown symptoms which suggested coronavirus.
‘Without meaningful levels of testing, we are unable to confirm an exact number, so we have included those who showed even the slightest symptoms in the full total.
‘No residents in the home are currently showing any symptoms of coronavirus.’
Care UK’s Regional Director Maggie Bustard said: ‘This is devastating news for the family and friends of these residents as well as our team. Our thoughts are with those who have lost someone and we send our condolences and best wishes.
‘I would like to acknowledge the fantastic team at Paisley Court who have worked so hard to care for these other residents.
‘We have a number of measures in place to minimise the risk of infection for both residents and colleagues. We have access to a full supply of personal protective equipment which the team is using in line with Public Health England and NHS guidance.
‘Residents are being cared for in their rooms as much as possible and we follow strict isolation processes should anyone show even the slightest symptoms.
‘We also have control processes in place to ensure anyone who comes into the home, including our own team, is screened via a health and temperature check.’
Latest figures show at least 12,800 COVID-19 deaths have occurred in UK care homes, out of a total of 44,000 total covid deaths to date.
That includes more than 11,000 in England and Wales up until May 8, more than 1,630 in Scotland up until May 16, and 269 in Northern Ireland until May 8.
Last week, the ONS said more than 12,500 people living in care homes have died with COVID-19 which included all care home residents who died with coronavirus either at their care home or in hospital.
It suggests the overall care home resident death figure is 25 per cent higher than the total reported by the ONS.
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson today confirmed 131 social care workers had died from COVID-19 and at least 181 NHS staff.
Another measurement of the scale of the problem in care homes is ‘excess of mortality’.
The term is used to describe when more people die than would be expected under normal conditions, either from COVID-19 or something else.
AGENCY WORKERS CONTRIBUTED TO VIRUS SPREAD IN CARE HOMES
Temporary care workers helped to fuel Britain’s coronavirus crisis in care homes, a damning Government study has found.
Agency staff working in multiple homes may have unwittingly infected thousands of elderly and vulnerable residents without being tested for the virus.
In some cases ‘bank workers’ – used to fill temporary vacancies – were standing in for full-time carers who were self-isolating to protect the residents.
Public Health England researchers analysing the virus’ genome traced outbreaks in London care homes back to the temporary workers.
The unpublished PHE study, seen by the Guardian, analysed the behaviour of the virus in six care homes in London from April 11 to April 13, over Easter weekend.
The study warned: ‘Infection is spreading from care home to care home, linked to changed patterns of staffing, working across and moving between homes.’
It said the agency staff were often asymptomatic, which meant ‘by the time local health protection teams are informed of an outbreak substantial transmission may already have occurred.’
Care homes were hugely reliant on bank staff at the peak of the crisis in April, when a quarter of the workforce were self-isolating.
Results of the research were handed to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) at the end of last month.
But the findings were only circulated last week to care home providers, councils and local public health directors – fuelling allegations care homes were left in the lurch.
The government is facing scathing criticism over claims it abandoned care homes in its scramble to protect the NHS from the infection.
That shows twice as many people have died in care homes in England, Wales and Scotland during the coronavirus pandemic than would be expected in normal times.
An extra 21,813 deaths have occurred in care homes in England Wales and 2,054 additional deaths in care homes in Scotland compared to the five year average.
It means an additional 10,000 or so deaths have not been caused directly by COVID-19, but they would not have been expected to happen if the pandemic didn’t hit Britain.
Paisley Court reported a further four residents had passed away due to causes not related to COVID-19.
‘No residents in the home are currently showing any symptoms of coronavirus.’
Four out of every 10 care home in the UK has now had a coronavirus case at some point, the Prime Minister’s spokesman confirmed.
Data from Public Health England found that 5,889 care settings – 38 per cent – had reported a suspected outbreak, a rise of 300 outbreaks in just one week.
In Scotland, there are currently 484 (45 per cent) adult care homes with a current case of suspected COVID-19.
Last week, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that all residents and members of staff in care homes in England would be able to receive a test for coronavirus even if they were not showing symptoms of the disease.
But the move came after the coronavirus had already rippled through the sector, taking the lives of thousands.
The true scale of the crisis is unknown because of a lack of routine testing.
The Government’s response in protecting care homes has been a contentious issue, as ministers have faced increasing criticism for their slow response.
Today was the first time a minister – Justice Secretary Robert Buckland – admitted ministers ‘chose’ to protect the NHS over care homes. It was the clearest statement yet that a decision was made to prioritise the health service when the outbreak was at its most ferocious.
‘I think we needed to make a choice about testing and we did decide to focus upon the NHS,’ he told Sky News.
Care England chief Martin Green said it was a ‘significant’ statement from Mr Buckland and he hoped the government will ‘learn lessons’.
But just hours later, Mr Buckland tried to retract his statement, telling ITV News it was a ‘false dichotomy’ to suggest a choice was made between the two.
It comes as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer questioned a claim made by the Health Secretary that a ‘protective ring was thrown around care homes from start’.
He said today that claim was ‘flatly contradicted’ by the chief executive of Care England, Professor Martin Green, who said on Tuesday ‘we should have been focusing on care homes from the start’.
The advice to hospitals from the April 2 to April 15 was that ‘negative tests are not required prior to transfers/admissions into the care home’.
‘What’s protective about that?’ Sir Keir asked the PM – who said ‘no one was discharged into a care home this year without the express authorisation of a clinician’.
It follows Liz Kendall, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Social Care, slamming the Government for its delayed approach yesterday after the latest ONS figures.
Addressing Matt Hancock at the House of Commons, she said: ‘Can the Health Secretary explain why guidance saying care homes were very unlikely to be infected wasn’t withdrawn until March 12, when the Chief Medical Officer warned about community transmission and the risk to the elderly on March 4?’
In response, Mr Hancock said the guidance was in place while ‘community transmission was low’.
Ms Kendall continued: ‘Can he explain why there was no requirement to test those being discharged to care homes, the very group most at risk, until April 15?
‘It took until mid-April for the Government to produce a health and social care plan, until the end of April to say all residents and staff should be tested, and until May 11 to set a deadline for achieving this, and that deadline still isn’t until June 6.’
Mr Hancock said it was ‘important to remember’ hospital was also a dangerous place to pick up the virus. Therefore it is appropriate in many cases for patients to go to a care home.
He appeared to pass the buck to care homes, which had been instructed to put infection control procedures in from the beginning of the pandemic.