Coronavirus UK live: Covid-19 much more prevalent in care homes than official figures imply, says expert | Politics

ONS figures suggest 10% of coronavirus deaths occurring outside hospital

Coronavirus much more widespread in care homes than official figures suggests, says leading firm

Good morning. I’m Andrew Sparrow, taking over from Jessica Murray.

On the Today programme this morning Sir David Behan, a former chief executive of the Care Quality Commission, and now a non-executive director for HC-One, one of Britain’s largest care home firms, said he thought the official figures for coronavirus in care homes were understating the scale of the problem.

Yesterday Prof Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, said 13.5% of the UK’s care homes had a confirmed case of coronavirus among their residents. But, as we reported earlier (see 8.18am), Behan told Today that, by 8pm yesterday, there had been 2,447 cases of either suspected or confirmed Covid-19 within his company’s care homes. The virus was present in 232 of its homes, about two thirds of the total.

Asked if he thought it was the case that his firms homes were being particularly badly hit, or if he thought the official figures for the incidence of Covid-19 in care homes were an understatement, he replied:

We think this is a more realistic picture. There is an inference that there has been a high level of Covid-19 in care homes because people aren’t being careful. I don’t think that’s the case at all.

As my colleague Robert Booth reports, new research suggests that about half of all coronavirus deaths in some European countries appear to be happening in care homes.

A third of call centre workers continue to be required to work despite being non-essential workers, while only 2% of those who asked to work from home have had their request granted.

These are the interim results from an online survey by Strathclyde University which has received over 2000 responses since it was opened on April 7, with a high proportion of Scottish respondents but spanning UK-wide workers.

Key findings include: almost 60% of workers are still working having been designated as essential by their employer, with only 17.9% of those believing they are essential, stating they are working on mortgages, PPI and credit issues; 50% state they are working face-to-face with a co-worker; only a third of workers report that their employer is successfully implementing workplace distancing.

Call centre expert Professor Phil Taylor, who is leading the study, said:

This survey lifts the lid on the nightmare being endured by many agents, with insufficient social distancing, multi-occupation workstations, over-crowded lifts, poor sanitation, re-used headsets, heating and ventilation systems spreading germs.






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