Lunchtime summary: Are care homes the new frontline?

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Last night, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson had claimed the UK had “wrestled [the virus] to the floor”, director of the National Care Forum Vic Rayner said that care homes were "nowhere near a peak" of coronavirus deaths. "We haven’t yet seen the level of action we need to get this right. The frontline of this virus has moved into care homes and the clinical focus now needs to shift,” he said.

New figures released today appear to back him up. The Care Quality Commission, which regulates care homes in England, said that more than 4,300 people died in care homes in the fortnight between 10 and 24 April, and half of those deaths occurred within the final five days of the period. 

“In total, we are looking at around at least 5,500 deaths in care homes in England related to Covid by 24 April," said Nick Striple, head of health analysis and life events at the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Separately, the ONS said today that the total number of registered deaths relating to coronavirus up to 25 April was 21,284. Although the ONS and CQC follow different data sets, the data would suggest as many as a quarter of all Covid-19 deaths in England are happening in care homes.

The ONS stats also showed that England and Wales had seen 27,000 more deaths than would normally be expected between the start of March, when the coronavirus pandemic took hold, and 17 April. 19,093 of these "excess deaths" have been officially attributed to Covid-19, leaving a gap of 7,922 deaths that are officially “unexplained”. As more information emerges, it could become clear that many of these can, in fact, be explained by Covid-19, whether directly or indirectly. 

In the week ending 17 April there were 11,854 excess deaths, the highest ever recorded in a single week. 

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