Coronavirus: 50 suspected cases in Suffolk care homes
PUBLISHED: 14:37 21 April 2020 | UPDATED: 08:05 22 April 2020
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At least 50 cases of suspected coronavirus have been reported in Suffolk’s care homes, it has emerged.
Suffolk County Council (SCC) said it had received reports of 30 cases in Ipswich and east Suffolk, 13 in West Suffolk, and seven in Waveney as of Tuesday, April 21.
The figures include cases announced by supported housing providers.
Care homes are not obligated to report suspected or confirmed cases to SCC, so the council is unlikely to be notified about every single one, but they are required to report them to Public Health England.
It comes after 23 deaths were reported at five care homes across Suffolk.
Testing has not been widely available in care homes, and so the true death toll and number of infections is likely to be higher than what is currently being reported.
However, today’s figures from SCC give some insight into the scale of the crisis facing the sector.
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David Finch, chairman of the Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers, moved to reassure relatives that care home staff are working “extremely hard” to ensure people are isolated effectively and PPE stock levels are sufficient.
But he said delays with testing in care homes and the reporting of Covid-19 related deaths in the sector – both national issues – have meant we are “playing catch up”.
“Testing and a clearer approach to reporting should have happened ages ago,” he said.
“There was a danger that anyone who died in a care home would immediately be classified as Covid-19, if testing had started a long time ago, we would have had a much clearer picture, now we’re playing catch up.
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“Unfortunately people in care homes do succumb to chest infections and to colds and so on, and they may have died from that chest infection, not necessarily Covid-19, but you can’t determine that without a test.
“I would hope in a couple of weeks we will get a clearer picture of how many people have died in care homes nationally and in Suffolk.
“But it is difficult because we are starting quite far behind where we should be.”
He previously told this newspaper the coronavirus death toll in Suffolk could be up to 20% higher than reported due to deaths at care homes.
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There have been concerns about protective equipment for care workers, with this care home manager saying she had to triple her spend on PPE in a week to keep her staff safe.
However this week, 134 requests for supplies were fulfilled by SCC.
Items most needed right now include fluid repellent face masks, nitrile non powdered disposable gloves, disposable aprons, disposable eye protection/splash goggles and sanitiser gel.
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