Early signs that care home deaths are falling

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There are early signs that the number of deaths in care homes could be decreasing. That’s according to new English data from the Care and Quality Commission, which publishes daily figures on the number of people dying in care homes. So far, their figures say, at least 6,391 people have died from Covid-19 in care homes since 10 April.

The good news is that there has been a recent decrease in the number of deaths the CQC have been told about, falling from a high of 613 on 27 March to 230 as of 1 May.

The less good news is that there is a clear “weekend effect” in the data, with numbers tending to spike on Mondays - so we can’t be sure exactly how much of the drop is due to reporting delays, and how much it will spike again.

Looking at a seven-day average, which removes the “weekend effect”, the figures show a declining number of deaths every day since 27 April. That chimes with separate statistics from Public Health England showing the number of respiratory outbreaks in care homes dropped between the week ending April 19 and week ending 26 April.

Separate weekly ONS figures, which only go up to 24 April, show care home deaths relating to Covid-19 were rising up to that point. They show that 2,794 people died with Covid-19 on their death certificate in the week ending 24 April - up from 2,050 the previous week. If the CQC figures are accurate, that weekly figure from the ONS should fall when it is updated again next week.

Michael Goodier is a data journalist at New Statesman media group

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