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The number of people dying from coronavirus in Europe’s care homes has been described as an “unimaginable human tragedy”, as new estimates suggest they make up nearly half of all deaths from the disease.
The World Health Organisation’s regional director for Europe told a press conference on Thursday there was a “deeply concerning picture” emerging regarding those in long-term care.
Dr Hans Kluge said: “According to estimates from countries in the European region, up to half of those who have died from Covid-19 were resident in long-term care facilities.”
While Kluge didn’t provide a country-by-country breakdown for the estimates, England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, admitted on Wednesday that the number of UK deaths in care facilities is likely to be an “underestimate”.
Current figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest 1,043 people have died in care homes after contracting Covid-19, compared with 18,100 in hospitals.
It comes after the government and Care Quality Commission (CQC) said on Wednesday that deaths in England’s care homes during a five-day period could be double the total figure already reported.
Prof Whitty told reporters that the 826 care home deaths reported in England and Wales by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in the week ending April 10 were “an underestimate”.
“The numbers that have been ascribed to Covid directly in ONS statistics are still relatively modest,” Prof Whitty said.
“But I have said repeatedly in data – the fact that the ONS said in their last weekly report 826 deaths – every one of them a tragedy, but I think that will be an underestimate.”