Care home deaths now account for 40 per cent of coronavirus fatalities in England and Wales, official data shows, despite Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, claiming they are only a quarter.
New Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures reveal that there were 2,423 deaths related to Covid-19 in care homes in the week to May 1, with 3,214 – 53 per cent – occurring in hospitals.
Care home deaths related to the virus have now reached 8,314, according to Care Quality Commission data that goes up to May 8.
The stats reveal that, while the raw total of deaths in care homes decreased in the second half of April, they increased as a proportion of care home deaths overall across the final two weeks.
In the week leading up to May 1, there were 6,409 deaths in care homes in England and Wales related to the virus, 37.8 per cent of the total compared to 35.3 per cent the week before.
Ministers have said that the ongoing epidemic in care homes and hospitals is the main factor preventing the ‘R’ value, or rate of infection, decreasing sufficiently to allow a greater easing of the lockdown.
They are concerned that, until the situation improves, care homes will form reservoirs of the virus that can then reseed the disease in the wider community.
Tuesday’s figures take the UK-wide total of coronavirus deaths to above 40,000.
Responding to criticism that more care workers have died than doctors or nurses, Mr Hancock said on Tuesday morning: “No, I think that that’s really unfair.
“The reason is this – some of our most vulnerable people live in care homes and yet only around a quarter of deaths that have been in care homes.
“That is much lower than most international comparators (sic). And at the same time, we’ve put in place those measures to protect people in care homes.”
Of all deaths involving coronavirus up to May 1, 22,873 took place in hospitals, while 10,535 were in the community, including 8,213 in care homes, 1,562 in private homes and 386 in hospices.