New £600m infection control fund announced to fight coronavirus in care homes
PUBLISHED: 20:43 15 May 2020 | UPDATED: 20:45 15 May 2020
The government has announced £600 million in funding to tackle the spread of coronavirus in care homes.
Health secretary Matt Hancock made the announcement at Friday’s daily press conference to address the crisis in care homes, as figures show more than a third of oronavirus-related deaths in the UK have been among care home residents in England and Wales.
The new infection control fund will be given to local authorities to ensure care homes can cover the costs of any measures to reduce outbreaks and transmissions - such as covering costs of restricting staff to one home or pay the wages of those self isolating.
The funding is in addition to £3.2billion already available to local authorities to support key public services.
More: Seven more care homes report suspected coronavirus outbreaks
Mr Hancock also stated every resident and staff member would be tested by early June - despite saying on April 28 this testing was available.
He said: “From the very start of this outbreak, we have been working to protect our brilliant social care workforce and the most vulnerable in our society.
“Our package sets out clearly the extra steps local councils and care homes should be taking as we stamp out the spread of this virus.”
Further measures announced include local authorities carrying out daily reviews in their area to ensure homes had the support they needed for staffing, accessing personal protective equipment, the appointment of clinical lead at every care home in England, and a new app for social care staff to receive support and advice for their mental health and wellbeing.
More: What the R rate is and why it’s important
In Norfolk a former health secretary has said care home residents have paid a “huge price” following the emptying of acute hospital beds in March.
Also at the conference, Mr Hancock said the government remained confident that the reproductive rate of coronavirus is still under one, as new figures suggest it has crept up.
The so-called R-number - which is the average number of people that will contract coronavirus from an infected person - is now between 0.7 and 1.0 in England, according to government scientific advisers.
The rise in the figure is thought to be driven by the virus spreading in care homes and hospitals rather than the wider community, but previous data put it at between 05 and 0.9.
There is a time lag in the calculations, with the latest R value relating to what was happening two to three weeks ago.
Mr Hancock said: “Everybody can play their part in keeping R below one and pushing R down.
More: Warning of ‘catastrophic’ social care cuts if councils face virus funding gap
“You can do that by following the social distancing rules, so if you do go outdoors, do it only with members of your household and keep two metres away from others who aren’t in your household.
“And those social distancing rules are incredibly clear, and they will help to keep us safe.”
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