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13 May 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

Care home death toll could be 22,000, more than double official figure, academics say

By Samuel Horti

The number of care home residents that have died as either a direct or indirect result of Covid-19 in England and Wales may be double the official figure, new research has found.

Official data suggests that only four in ten of the “excess deaths” in care settings – the number of additional deaths compared to what would be expected for this time of year – have been attributed to Covid-19. But academics from the London School of Economics said this underestimated the impact of the virus.

Between 13 March and 1 May, there were 19,938 excess deaths in care homes, with only 8,310 attributed to Covid-19. Researchers said many of those unexplained excess deaths were a result of residents not seeking medical care for other conditions because they were afraid of contacing Covid-19 in hospitals, or of increasing pressure on the NHS.

When you take into account all excess deaths among care home residents as well as deaths among people that had moved from care homes to hospitals, who aren’t counted in official care home figures, then the true Covid-19 death toll in the sector could be higher than 22,000, they said.

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