Care home deaths in Norfolk are now the highest in England
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More people were killed by coronavirus in Norfolk care homes last week than anywhere else in the country, with more than 100 deaths recorded.
The weekly number of deaths in Norfolk’s care homes has been growing since early December.
And data released on Tuesday from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) shows 103 care home residents died in the week ending January 29 – up from 69 the week before.
In Suffolk, just 30 care home deaths were registered in the same period.
Of all 487 care home virus deaths in Norfolk since the start of the pandemic, 253 have been recorded in under five weeks since January 1 – more than half. And the numbers of deaths have jumped each week by at least a third since the start of 2021. This comes despite assurances that care homes would be better protected in the second wave.
Since January 1, Covid has accounted for 57pc of all care home deaths. Over the whole course of the pandemic, that percentage is 21pc.
Only five other counties in England have recorded as many care home virus deaths this year - Kent, Essex, East Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire.
Norfolk’s grim care home death toll looks set to top 500 next week and leaves the county among the ten worst affected areas in the country since the beginning of the pandemic.
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Norfolk’s director for public health Dr Louise Smith said that considering the county's demographic profile and high care home population, the figures "are not unlike those across the country."
“Despite stringent compliance with PPE and regular testing, care providers are finding that the virus can infect significant numbers of residents and staff; we believe this increase may be due to a number of factors, including the winter weather, the high levels of infection in the general population or the new, more transmissible variant of Covid 19," added Dr Smith.
"We have been both reviewing the data on these cases carefully and are working closely with Care providers to respond to outbreaks.”
The rollout of vaccines to vulnerable residents has also been hampered by Covid outbreaks, with almost half of the county's homes experiencing outbreaks since December 1.
Unison Norfolk County branch secretary Jonathan Dunning said: “Nearly a year into this pandemic there are no excuses for the rising death tolls in Norfolk’s care homes.
“Behind these grim statistics are hundreds more mourning friends and relatives they haven’t been allowed to see since last March.
“It is vital that care staff are properly looked after and protected from the virus so they can properly look after residents. That means ensuring that staff are fully paid when they have to self-isolate or take time off with Covid.
“Government cash is there for it, but it hasn’t been ring-fenced and we know it’s not always getting to care staff. It’s not good enough.”
Nationally, Covid has killed 5,740 care home residents since January 1 - 42pc of the total.