UK now has second-highest COVID-19 death toll in Europe with 26,097 fatalities

It is feared more Britons are now dying of Coronavirus in care homes than in hospitals – and  the Department of Health, for the first time, has announced an up-to-date figure for deaths in care homes.

A total of 26,097 patients had died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Tuesday, Public Health England said.

For the first time, the Department of Health has announced an up-to-date daily total for deaths in care homes, where it is feared more people are now dying of Covid-19 than in hospitals.

Public Health England has now reported an additional 3,811 deaths in England since the start of the outbreak.

Dominic Raab, speaking at today’s Downing Street coronavirus briefing, said: “It’s important to say that those deaths were spread over the period from 1st of March to 28th of April so they don’t represent a sudden surge in the number of deaths.”

The latest daily figure is 765 deaths in hospital and care homes yesterday. Previously, data was being published weekly and a week out of date as the Government was accused of overlooking care homes while focusing on protecting the NHS.

Downing Street has faced increasing criticism over the number of deaths in care and nursing homes and it is feared that the epidemic still hasn’t reached its peak in those facilities.

Number 10 said the new procedure for publishing data would come from three sources.

First, it would include the previously available data – from NHS England – which is based on reports directly from NHS trusts in relation to deaths in hospital.

It will also include data from central NHS records on officially recorded deaths and figures from Public Health England surveillance teams in each region.

The intention is to combine figures covering deaths in hospitals, care homes, people who die in their homes and the wider community.

There was an 11-day time lag for the Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) data on the number of people who have died in care homes and their own homes after contracting coronavirus.

Helen Whately, minister for care, said the new method of reporting figures would help Government “better understand” the impact of the outbreak in care homes.

She said: “I am determined that people living in care homes continue to receive the best care possible during these challenging times.

“Sadly, this pandemic has already taken many lives, and my heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones before their time.

“Today’s data cannot bring them back but it can help us to better understand the impact this outbreak is having on those living in care homes so that we can continue to do everything in our power to protect them.”

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, deputising for Boris Johnson, whose fiancée Carrie Symonds gave birth to a baby boy, said the spread of Covid-19 in care homes is a “challenge that we must grip”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had asked why deaths in care homes were still rising amid fears that the UK was on course to have the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe.

In response, Mr Raab said: “There’s doubting and I will not shy away from saying in front of the right honourable gentleman (Sir Keir) that this is a challenge.

“But it is a challenge that we must grip and can grip to make sure we can get the numbers down in care homes as we have seen in hospitals and as we’ve seen in the country at large.”

He said there would be no “sugar coating” of the issues.

Source: Mirror

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