Coronavirus: Care homes ‘widely exposed’ as COVID-19 ‘begins to move in’

Care homes are still “widely exposed” to coronavirus as it starts spreading within them again, a trade association boss has said.

Nadra Ahmed, chair of the National Care Association, said many of her members are “extremely concerned” at government guidance on how care homes should prepare for winter amid warnings of a COVID-19 second spike.

She told Sky News the challenge they faced at the start of the pandemic “continues”.

Under new instructions released by ministers on Friday, all new care home residents who have been discharged from hospital should be isolated for 14 days regardless of their COVID-19 test result.

But Ms Ahmed said the virus is “beginning to move into care homes” already – and a lot have already stopped visits except for end-of-life circumstances.

“We’ve tried very hard to open it up to visiting because we know how important it is,” she told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday.

“It’s part of the whole purpose of people being in care homes – to have that facility to be able to come and visit and enrich their lives.

“This virus is taking us back many steps.”

She added “not many” care homes have facilities where they can safely keep a resident and all the staff that will support them isolated for 14 days.

And she criticised the “fiasco” of testing, where instead of Boris Johnson’s promise for all results to be returned within 24 hours, it is still taking up to five or six days.

“We are still quite widely exposed to not being able to be absolutely 100% sure every single day about the level of that risk,” she said. “We are extremely concerned.”

But Health Secretary Matt Hancock insisted no-one with coronavirus would be discharged into the normal space of a care home without having undergone 14 days’ isolation.

He said the rules were “incredibly stringent” but that he still “understand the concerns” some have.

“If a care home doesn’t have isolation facilities or we don’t think they’re good enough, nobody will go to that care home who tests positive,” he told Sophy Ridge.

“There will not be people with coronavirus going into the general care of care homes.”

Ministers were criticised over their handling of the pandemic in care homes in March and April, for example when a nursing home owner accused government guidance of being “tantamount to importing death into care homes” and “sacrificing the elderly”.

At the height of the crisis more than 400 care home residents were dying every day with coronavirus, analysis by the Press Association found.

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