Covid-19 cases in care homes lowest since outbreak began – but deaths continue to rise
PUBLISHED: 17:47 19 June 2020 | UPDATED: 17:47 19 June 2020
The number of Covid-19 cases in Suffolk’s care homes has reduced for the seventh week in a row as outbreaks decline across the country.
Suffolk County Council (SCC) confirmed it knew of 109 suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases in care homes, affecting 38 providers as of Tuesday, June 16.
This is the lowest number of cases since the council began to record the numbers in April.
However, five more people have died at care homes in Suffolk taking the total number of confirmed deaths as a result of coronavirus to 171.
Suffolk has consistently seen a higher percentage of Covid-19 deaths in care homes than neighbouring counties throughout the outbreak.
The county council said the reasons for this are “complex” and believe a main factor is that more people choosing to die in their usual place of residence.
Councillor Beccy Hopfensperger, cabinet member for adult care, said: “Suffolk’s care homes continue to care for residents with the utmost professionalism and kindness.
“Testing is available for all care homes, for the entire home including staff and residents who are not displaying any symptoms.
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“With more testing taking place, infection control and prevention measures can be more effective.
“The county council with its health partners, continues to have daily contact with care providers to support them and respond to their needs and concerns.
“This support has included help to source agency staff, obtaining PPE, a dedicated infection prevention and control enquiry line and a package of financial support to give providers greater stability.”
Since April 18 whole care home testing in Suffolk, of all staff and residents, had been limited to people showing symptoms of Covid-19 under national guidelines.
However, SCC has since clarified that from May 14 onwards, through a system rolled out locally, all staff and residents were being offered tests regardless of whether they had symptoms.
This applies to all care home settings, including home care.
Initial confusion over testing, and what has been available in Suffolk during the pandemic, has been put down to the fact that the authority rolled out whole care home testing a day earlier than the government’s announcement.
Previously, David Finch, from the Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers, said he was pleased to see care homes appear to be past their peak, and that the number of deaths is continuing to fall.
But he added: “There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure we do not see any increases. “We need to ensure the Government support the care sector with everything it needs.”
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