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The death tolls for the number of people who have died in care homes after testing positive for coronavirus will now be announced daily, Matt Hancock has said.
The Government previously faced criticism over the fact the daily death toll figures provided by the Department of Health only include hospital fatalities.
To date, figures for deaths in care homes and in the community have been released weekly by the Office for National Statistics.
The news comes as the Care Quality Commission revealed today that 4,343 Covid-19 deaths occurred in care homes between April 10 to the 24.
Speaking in Downing Street, Mr Hancock said: “From tomorrow we’ll be publishing not just the number of deaths in hospital each day but the number of deaths in care homes and the community too.”
The Health Secretary said that this was part of a Government effort to “bring as much transparency as possible” during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He added: “This will supplement the ONS and CQC weekly publication and all add to our understanding of how this virus is spreading day by day.”
The move will also “help inform the judgments that we make as we work to keep people safe,” Mr Hancock said.
Answering questions from journalists during the press briefing, he said the spread of Covid-19 through care homes is “absolutely a priority” for the Government.
The Health Secretary also revealed that after successful pilots, the government will be rolling out coronavirus testing to asymptomatic residents and staff in care homes in England as well as staff and patients in the NHS.
“This will mean that anyone who is working or living in a care home will be able to get access to a test whether they have symptoms or not,” he stated.
“I am determined to do everything I can to protect the most vulnerable.”
Professor John Newton, co-ordinator of the national testing effort, addressing the spread of the virus in care homes, said: “We’ve done some intensive studies of infection in care homes.
“What that showed was that the presence of symptoms was not really a good marker in the care home setting, both among residents and staff, for the presence of the virus.
“There were significant numbers who were asymptomatic who had the virus and so we have massively increased the amount of testing available.
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“We have now tested 25,000 residents in care homes and we are rolling out testing now to symptomatic and asymptomatic residents, as well as providing testing through the drive-thru centres and other means.”
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