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More than 12,500 care home residents have died of coronavirus in England and Wales since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Between March 2 and May of this year, a total of 45,899 people died in care homes according to the latest figures published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
Covid-19 was involved in a total of 12,526 deaths, accounting for 27.3% of all deaths in care homes.
The statistics also show that 23,136 more care home residents died between December 28, 2019, and May 1, 2020, than had died in the previous year.
Of these deaths, 12,526 mentioned “novel coronavirus [Covid-19]”, which is 17.1% of all deaths in care home residents in the year-to-date.
These figures reveal a startling rise in the number of non-coronavirus related deaths year on year – a phenomenon currently being investigated by the ONS.
Meanwhile, the statistics show that the number of care home resident deaths involving Covid-19 within care homes had overtaken deaths within hospitals.
Between March 2 and May 1, coronavirus was the leading cause of death in male care home residents, accounting for 30.3% of all deaths, and was the second leading cause of death in female care home deaths, after dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, accounting for 23.5% of deaths.
Data published by the ONS in April showed that Covid-19 had – at that point – killed men at double the rate of women.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s was the most common main pre-existing condition found among deaths involving Covid-19 – involved in 42.5% of all deaths of care home residents involving COVID-19.
Across England, the South East saw the highest number of coronavirus deaths in care home residents, accounting for 25.7% of deaths among the care home population.
The South West had the lowest proportion of deaths involving Covid-19 accounting for 12.9% of deaths in care home residents. When comparing Wales with the English regions, it had the lowest number (532) of deaths involving Covid-19 among care home residents.
In England, the age-specific mortality rate was at least 6.5 times higher for care home residents aged 85 and over than for non-care home residents for deaths involving coronavirus, and for all deaths.
However, the ONS did point out that higher mortality is to be expected among care home residents as poor health and frailty is a dominant reason for needing residential care in the first place.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Every death from this virus is a tragedy and we are working around the clock to give the social care sector the equipment and support they need to tackle this unprecedented global pandemic.
“This includes continuing to make sure millions of items of PPE are available to care workers, using our increased testing capacity to test care home residents, staff and their families, regardless of symptoms and our new £600m Infection Control Fund to help prevent spread in care homes.
“We are continuing to work closely with the ONS, PHE and the CQC so we have all the information needed to continue our fight against this virus.”