UK

24 elderly residents die in Hampshire while second tragedy in the Midlands leaves nine dead

Twenty four elderly residents have died after an outbreak of Covid-19 at a Hampshire care home, while a second care home tragedy in the Midlands has left nine dead.

The residents at Pemberley House care home, Basingstoke, died in the last few weeks following the virus outbreak earlier this month, in what is one of the worst known outbreaks in a care home in England.

In a similar tragedy, nine elderly residents have died at Seagrave House care home in Corby, Northamptonshire, and it is feared dozens more are fighting infections.

Both care homes are operated by Avery Healthcare, with the company saying staff were ‘deeply saddened’ by the deaths following the Basingstoke outbreak. 

In a statement, a spokesperson said: ‘We are deeply saddened by the loss of a number of our residents at our care home in Basingstoke, and our thoughts are with all the family and friends who have lost loved ones during this very difficult time.

Twenty four elderly residents died after an outbreak of Covid-19 at Pemberley House care home, Basingstoke (pictured) following a virus outbreak that was found on January 5

‘Staff have, and continue to work tirelessly throughout the pandemic to protect residents and each other.

‘Our focus remains on supporting the wellbeing of residents, families, and staff as we work through this together.’

The Care Quality Commission said it has been notified of the cluster of 24 deaths, which had followed an outbreak of Covid-19 at the home earlier this month.

A spokesman said it was not yet confirmed if all 24 deaths were directly caused by a Covid-19 infection. The deaths mean over a third of the home’s residents have died.

The care home is in the Viables area of Basingstoke, south of the town centre. There was a spike in coronavirus cases in this district of the town earlier this month, according to the government’s Covid-19 data dashboard.

During the first week in January there were 101 positive tests reported in the area, which was equivalent to an infection rate of 1,289.4 cases per 100,000 people.

This was the highest rate recorded in the area since the start of the pandemic and one of the highest rates in the country.

The outbreak in the Basingstoke care home was first declared on January 5, according to the Basingstoke Gazette, with 60 percent of its residents testing positive for the disease.

The UK's national statistics body found 1,705 care home residents died from the virus in the week ending January 22, up from 661 a fortnight ago

The UK’s national statistics body found 1,705 care home residents died from the virus in the week ending January 22, up from 661 a fortnight ago

The Pemberley House care home is run by Avery Healthcare, with the company saying staff were 'deeply saddened' by the deaths following the Basingstoke outbreak

The Pemberley House care home is run by Avery Healthcare, with the company saying staff were ‘deeply saddened’ by the deaths following the Basingstoke outbreak

Avery Healthcare did not confirm if residents at the home had received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine at the time of the outbreak of the virus, but the newspaper reported residents had begun to receive the jabs.

Government’s advise says that an individual ‘can not catch Covid-19 from the vaccine but it is possible to have caught Covid-19 and not realise you have the symptoms until after your vaccination appointment’, adding that it may take ‘a week or two’ after the first dose to develop protection.

A spokesperson for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency emphasised that there was no suggestion the deaths were linked to the vaccine.

‘We are saddened to hear about any deaths which have occurred since receiving Covid-19 vaccination. However, our surveillance does not suggest that the Covid-19 vaccines have contributed to any deaths,’ the spokesperson for the MHRA said.

‘It is not unexpected that some of these people may naturally fall ill due to their age or underlying conditions shortly after being vaccinated, without the vaccine playing any role in that.

‘We have robust surveillance systems in place to rapidly review all reports of suspected side effects to determine whether these are possible new risks, or coincidental.’   

Pictured: Dr Maurice Price administers the BioNTech/Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine into the arm of Beryl Humphreys, a resident of a care home in Shrewsbury, on January 20 (file photo). Vaccinations had reportedly already been given to some residents of Pemberley House in Basingstoke, where 24 have died following an outbreak of coronavirus

Pictured: Dr Maurice Price administers the BioNTech/Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine into the arm of Beryl Humphreys, a resident of a care home in Shrewsbury, on January 20 (file photo). Vaccinations had reportedly already been given to some residents of Pemberley House in Basingstoke, where 24 have died following an outbreak of coronavirus

In the week ending January 8 there were 101 positive tests in the Viables area of Basingstoke where the care home is based. 

Care home residents across Hampshire were scheduled to be among the first to receive the jabs in the vaccination programme which started in England last month.

The National Infection Service at Public Health England says that anyone who receives the vaccine can still catch the virus for two to three weeks afterwards – and for older people it may take a week longer for the vaccine to be effective.

The most recent Care Quality Commission inspection of Pemberley House, in June 2017, rated the care provider as ‘Good’.

At the time of the inspection, 72 people were living at the care home, while it had capacity for up to 72. It provides residential care for older people over the age of 65.

Meanwhile at the Northamptonshire care home, local media sources say they understand as many as 35 residents and 40 members of staff have tested positive, which provides residential, respite and dementia care.

At least nine residents have died, it is understood.

In a similar tragedy, nine elderly residents have died at Seagrave House care home in Corby, Northamptonshire, and it is feared dozens more are fighting infections

In a similar tragedy, nine elderly residents have died at Seagrave House care home in Corby, Northamptonshire, and it is feared dozens more are fighting infections

Those who have tested positive must wait four weeks for a vaccination.

About 15 residents who have not been infected were due to have their first jab last week by the county clinical commissioning group’s home visiting service, who are running care home vaccinations.

But a risk assessment has to be carried out before a vaccination team can be sent to a care home, and Seagrave House’s planned vaccination date was cancelled.

It’s understood that the care home was originally told that the vaccine had been postponed for up to four weeks, and that they would likely be given a new date in February.

However, today it’s been confirmed that the home has a vaccination team going in tomorrow (Friday).

Katie Brown, acting director of adult social care at Northamptonshire Adult Social Services, said ‘Public Health Northamptonshire tracks all of the county’s known outbreak situations and takes action to manage the coronavirus in our communities.

‘We are aware of an outbreak at Seagrave House and are providing residents and staff with appropriate guidance and support.

It's understood the CQC was notified of several deaths by Seagrave House (pictured) over the weekend, although their causes of death are yet to be confirmed

It’s understood the CQC was notified of several deaths by Seagrave House (pictured) over the weekend, although their causes of death are yet to be confirmed

What are the current rules for visiting care homes?

Care homes across the UK are still offering outdoor visiting and ‘screened’ visits during the lockdown.

Government guidance says these should always be an option because visits are ‘crucially important for maintaining health and wellbeing and quality of life for residents’. 

As well as maintaining social distance, visitors have to adhere to hand hygiene protocols and in some cases wear personal protective equipment (PPE) including aprons, masks and gloves. 

However, care homes can cancel outdoor and screened visits if there is an outbreak in the facility.

Families are only allowed in-person visits in exceptional circumstances, including seeing dying relatives. 

This should continue even in the event of clusters within the homes, Number 10 says.   

Relatives coming for in-person visits must be tested using rapid lateral flow devices, which give a result within half an hour.

Only after a negative result can the visit continue. 

‘We are working with the local public heath team, Public Health England and environmental health colleagues and closely monitoring the situation.

‘We are not able to provide further specific details on the settings as we are subject to information governance regulations in order to protect the privacy of individuals and we are confident that this is a contained outbreak and does not pose a threat to the wider community.’

Any regulated service has to inform the Care Quality Commission (CQC) when a service user in adult social care dies.

It’s understood the CQC was notified of several deaths by Seagrave House over the weekend, although their causes of death are yet to be confirmed.

A CQC spokesman said ‘We are aware of a coronavirus outbreak at Seagrave House, and that the service has sadly reported that some of its residents have died.

‘We are monitoring the situation closely to ensure people’s safety.

‘We are also working with our health and social care partners to support the service to respond to this challenge.’

Seagrave House, which cared for 84 people at the time of its last inspection by health regulators, did not return a request for comment.

Avery Healthcare directed enquiries relating tot he Midlands care home to Public Health England when approached for comment but did not refute the numbers of cases and deaths put to them.

A Public Health England spokesman confirmed they are aware of the outbreak and are supporting the care home.

There are currently 45 active care home outbreaks in the county, including six in Corby.

More than 200 Covid deaths have been recorded in Northamptonshire care homes since last March.

Fifteen residents of Temple Court in Kettering died after a Covid outbreak last year and the care home was ordered to close.

A seven-month police probe ended with no further action earlier this month. 

Care home coronavirus deaths nearly tripled in a fortnight, damning official figures showed on Tuesday, as the disease makes a deadly resurgence in the sector.

The UK’s national statistics body found 1,705 care home residents died from the virus in the week ending January 22, up from 661 a fortnight ago.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also revealed care home residents make up almost a third of all Covid-19 fatalities. 

Liz Kendall, Labour's shadow social care minister, warned the UK is 'in a race against time to vaccinate residents and staff'

Liz Kendall, Labour’s shadow social care minister, warned the UK is ‘in a race against time to vaccinate residents and staff’

As of Tuesday, just 75 per cent of care home residents had been vaccinated against Covid, despite the vaccination scheme launching seven weeks ago. 

The Independent Care Group, which represents providers in York and North Yorkshire, said the figures make ‘grim reading’ and demonstrate the need to avoid complacency.  

Human rights group Amnesty International told MailOnline it suspects the resurgence of the virus in care homes is linked to the Government’s controversial policy to continue to send Covid patients discharged from hospitals back into care homes.

Under the scheme, designed to free up hospital beds and protect the NHS, care homes which pass inspection and are deemed Covid-secure are asked to house infected patients.  

Other experts have said that when transmission is allowed to spiral in the community – there are thought to be about 100,000 new infections in the UK every day – it will always trickle into care homes through asymptomatic staff and claim lives. 

More than 20,000 care home residents died from Covid-19 during the first wave of the pandemic and experts say the decision to discharge thousands of untested hospital patients into care homes in spring was partly to blame. 

MPs accused the Government of throwing care homes ‘to the wolves’.

The NHS data figures show that 252,992 vaccinations were administered across England on January 27 - of which 251,902 were given to people receiving their first dose. Pictured: Pharmacist Bhaveen Patel gives a dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in Brixton, London

The NHS data figures show that 252,992 vaccinations were administered across England on January 27 – of which 251,902 were given to people receiving their first dose. Pictured: Pharmacist Bhaveen Patel gives a dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in Brixton, London

England, Wales and Northern Ireland gave out 284,954 Covid-19 vaccines on Wednesday, official figures show, as the drive to immunise the UK is off its 400,000-a-day target needed to reach 15 million by mid-February. 

The Department of Health figures show that 284,954 vaccinations were give out across the three nations on January 27 – of which 282,812 were given to people receiving their first dose.

However Scotland was not included in the total number of vaccinations given out on January 27 due to an ‘IT issue overnight’ and so the full number could not be verified but ‘no data will have been lost’ from the technical glitch.  

The UK needs to be vaccinating at least 400,000 people every day for the next three weeks to fulfil Number 10‘s promise of immunising all 15million of the most vulnerable Brits by February 15. For each day that passes without the target being hit it becomes slightly higher. 

Overall, 6.9million first and second doses have been administered across England and 6.5 million have at least received their first dose while 1,090 received their follow-up jab on Wednesday. 

However the vaccine postcode lottery saw 84 per cent of over-80s immunised in the North East and Yorkshire with only 78 per cent in the South East and 65 per cent in London. 

England, Wales and Northern Ireland gave out 284,954 Covid-19 vaccines on Wednesday, official figures show, as the drive to immunise the UK is off its 400,000-a-day target needed to reach 15 million by mid-February

England, Wales and Northern Ireland gave out 284,954 Covid-19 vaccines on Wednesday, official figures show, as the drive to immunise the UK is off its 400,000-a-day target needed to reach 15 million by mid-February

The NHS data figures show that 252,992 vaccinations were administered across England on January 27 – of which 251,902 were given to people receiving their first dose.    

Gloucestershire is leading the jab rollout of the over-80s with 91 per cent vaccinated between December 8 and January 24. 

Meanwhile 89 per cent of the over-80 population in Herefordshire and Worcestershire has been vaccinated followed by Northamptonshire with 87 per cent over the same time period. 

The South East London integrated care system has the lowest proportion with only 60 per cent of its over-80 population vaccinated. 

However the supply of coronavirus vaccines to the North West of England could be cut by a third next month so doses can be diverted to parts of the country further behind in their rollout to the over-80s.

The North West has vaccinated the third-highest proportion of its over-80s, reaching 82 per cent of the group who are among those most at risk if they catch the virus. The North East is ahead of it and supplies are expected to be limited there, too.

And NHS sources say the region – which includes Manchester, Liverpool, Cheshire, Lancashire and Cumbria – will see supplies cut in the first week of February, according to the Health Service Journal

A senior member of the health service, who was not named, told the specialist news website: ‘It means that, having stepped up a lot of services, you’re then only using half that capability. I don’t think anyone’s complaining, but it’s going to be a significant step back just as capability has been ramped up.’

It comes amid reports ministers are redirecting supplies from areas steaming ahead in the rollout to those lagging behind – such as London and East Anglia – to ensure all priority groups are vaccinated quickly.

Vaccines WILL limit the spread of coronavirus – but we won’t know how by much until mid-February, experts say 

Britain’s vaccine roll out will limit the spread of coronavirus, but by exactly how much will not be made clear until mid-February, experts say.

Providing a boost to the UK’s hopes of ending lockdown, England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said jabs ‘couldn’t fail to have some effect on transmission’.

He said it was less a question of ‘will they?’ and rather ‘to what extent’ will inoculation help to reduce the spread.

But Boris Johnson and his chief scientists tonight said experts won’t know much effect the coronavirus vaccines are having on the country’s epidemic until mid-February,

The PM said the impact of the jabs won’t be felt in hospital and deaths data until then due to the lag in time it takes between getting injected and developing immunity.

He told a Downing Street press conference tonight that he would not consider lifting lockdown restrictions until he’d seen concrete ‘evidence that those graphs are coming down’.

The immunisation drive has only really got up to speed in the last few weeks and it takes between a fortnight and a month for a person to build up immunity.

Both the Pfizer and Oxford University vaccines have been proven to block severe illness, so experts hope they’ll start to make a dent in the death and hospitalisation rates in the coming weeks.

No10’s scientists will be monitoring those metrics, specifically in the most vulnerable groups – including the over-80s, over-75s and care homes residents – who are currently receiving the jabs.

So far 6.8million, or one in 10, people in Britain have received at least one dose of the vaccines.

In three weeks time, when most of those people have protection, experts will expect to see a near 10 per cent drop in hospital admissions.

Not all of the people vaccinated will be immune, however, because the jabs are not perfect. Pfizer’s is 95 per cent effective at blocking severe disease, while Oxford’s is around 70 per cent. 

Confusion was sparked last week after No10 refused to deny Covid-19 jabs could be redistributed to even out a postcode lottery, despite the vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi claiming none were being sent away from areas leading the drive.   

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has previously stated ministers will reroute stocks to areas where the fewest number of over-80s and other priority groups have received their first dose.   

The Department of Health told the HSJ it was making ‘targeted deliveries’ to areas where more people in priority groups were waiting for their first dose.

A spokesman said: ‘We are in close contact with all of our vaccine suppliers and remain on track to offer first vaccinations to the top four priority groups by mid-February.

‘As we’ve said, supply is the limiting factor and as the public would expect we’re prioritising those most at risk from this disease across the country. Our approach so far has ensured we’ve vaccinated more people than any country in Europe.’

An NHS North West spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘The North West is being fully supplied with all the vaccinations needed to offer vaccination to everyone across the region aged 70 and above, as well as clinically extremely vulnerable patients, and health and social care staff. 

‘Our job is to get them vaccinated by mid-February so targeted deliveries are being made to areas where there are more people left to vaccinate in the priority cohorts.’   

The Prime Minister’s rollout was mired in confusion last week after No10 refused to rule out plans to transfer Covid-19 stocks to other regions.

Asked to comment on the reports, a spokesman said: ‘We will continue to ensure that all areas and regions of the UK receive the vaccine to ensure we can protect the most vulnerable in society.

‘I would point to what Matt Hancock said yesterday where he said we have got to make sure vaccination is fair across the UK and some parts of the country, including parts of the North East and Yorkshire, have gone fast early on.

‘He also said why we’re putting more vaccine into areas that haven’t made as much progress, so everyone in the top four groups can receive the offer of a vaccine by February 15.

‘We’ve always said that we will prioritise those first four cohorts, which is why we set the mid-February target. But it remains the case that areas of the UK will continue to receive doses of the vaccine.’

Meanwhile Britain today confirmed another 28,680 cases of coronavirus in another week-on-week drop, with 24 per cent fewer than last Thursday.

The number, although slightly higher than yesterday, is another sign that the third national lockdown in England is working and infections are coming under control.

The Department of Health also announced another 1,239 people had died with the virus, taking the total to 103,126.

This was a small decline on this time last week – four per cent – and this figure will be the slowest to fall in the wake of infection numbers and hospital inpatients. 

It comes as Boris Johnson announced earlier this week that the national lockdown will last until at least March or until three weeks after the most vulnerable group has been completed. 

This means the prospect of lifting tough social distancing rules that have already been in place for three weeks is reliant entirely on the vaccine programme getting up to speed.  


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