Concerns raised over increase in coronavirus cases in care homes

James Bullion, executive director of adult social services at Norfolk County Council.

James Bullion, executive director of adult social services at Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

A rise in coronavirus cases and outbreaks in Norfolk's care homes is cause for concern, the county's director of adult social care has said.

As of Wednesday, July 7 there were nine outbreaks - defined as two or more linked cases - across Norfolk's care providers - an 80 pc increase on the five over the previous week.

And there were 16 cases associated with care homes in the seven days up to Friday, July 2 - a 220pc increase on the five over the previous week.

The increase comes against a backdrop of case rates in Norfolk increasing.

They remain low compared to the rest of England and the East of England, but public health experts expect the numbers to increase, as Norfolk is a couple of weeks behind the rest of the country.

And James Bullion, director of adult social care at Norfolk County Council, said, while it might not lead to so many deaths or hospitalisations as previous waves, it was likely to cause disruption.

He said: "It is a concern, because the rates have doubled over the past week.

"With the Delta variant, as soon as we get a positive outbreak, we are having to stop visiting.

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"I think we may not see the deaths or hospitalisations we have seen before, but it will cause disruption in terms of staffing and families being able to visit.

"And that does lead to the issues we have seen before over isolation and mental health."

And Mr Bullion said the requirement for care workers to have mandatory jabs could have an impact later in the year.

From October, anyone working in a Care Quality Commission-registered care home in England must have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, unless they have a medical exemption.

And Mr Bullion said that could create issues around Christmas time.

He said: "Some 90pc of eligible staff have had jabs and that's great, but it means 10pc who have not would not be able to carry on in their jobs.

"So, that could mean that 1,150 of the 11,500 staff who work in our care homes would not be there at Christmas time and that could be bad for the sector."

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