Care homes will be 'epicentre' for coronavirus spreading back into society

1 May 2020, 07:05

The report suggested care homes will be the "epicentre" of coronavirus returning to society
The report suggested care homes will be the "epicentre" of coronavirus returning to society. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Care homes could be the "epicentres of transmission" of Covid-19 with a warning the facilities will "feed" the outbreak going forward, according to a report quoting a senior NHS England director.

In a virtual call for NHS bosses on Thursday, Professor Keith Willett said there had been a "shift in the recognition" of the extent of coronavirus spread between residents and staff, the Independent reported.

The news site quoted Prof Willett, NHS England's strategic incident director for the Covid-19 outbreak, who said that the proportion of care home residents dying had increased from a quarter to 30%.

The Professor was reported as saying: "The expectation is that for the next few weeks ... those care homes will be the epicentres of transmission back into society and feeding the endemic problem that we will have going forward."

Data from earlier in the week on deaths outside hospitals showed showed deaths outside hospitals are continuing to rise, with more than half of the 4,343 death notifications from care homes to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) occurring in the five days up to April 24.

Over the same period, daily deaths in hospitals have been falling overall since April 8.

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Prof Willett warned that the health service was in a "precarious" position, and that some hospitals came close to being overwhelmed, the Independent said.

He added the NHS could be put under severe strain akin to the height of the crisis within a matter of days.

Prof Willett reportedly said: "We did ride that first wave with some spare capacity, but boy was it tight in some parts of the country, and you know that.

"London got very close to not having sufficient capacity. And I think we need to be very careful that we aren't making an assumption that somehow we're on a downward trajectory that's not going to change ...we can rapidly climb back to where we were in a matter of weeks, possibly in a matter of days."