Covid may have brought about a possible 10,000 deaths in care homes, as suggested by the Deputy Chief Officer Jennifer Harries.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jenny Haries said that it’s very likely that some of 10,000 “unexplained” additional deaths in care homes in April are because of Covid. Dr. Harries’ statement raises the prospect that the true death toll of the outbreak in the UK could be significantly higher than the official figure of 33,186.
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“Unexplained” care home deaths: due to Covid?
Boris Johnson acknowledged that the statistics indicated a “tragedy that has been taking place in care homes” but gave no explanation of the disparity between the ONS and government figures. Dr Harries said that the 8,000 figure covered only people who had been confirmed by laboratory tests as having contracted Covid-19.
She said that in the case of a further 10,000 “additional” deaths no test for Covid had taken place. And she made clear that there are also likely to have been Covid deaths elsewhere in the community which went unrecorded because of the lack of a test.
Dr Harries said a fair comparison must include information on the total number of additional deaths above what would be expected for the time of year, weighted to take into account varying age profiles in different countries.
Challenging Mr Johnson over care home death rates at prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons, Sir Keir said: “The ONS records the average number of deaths in care homes each month. For the last five years the average for April has been just over 8,000.
Then Mr Johnson responded: “The Office of National Statistics is responsible for producing the data that they have, the government had also produced data which not only shows that there has been, as I said, a terrible epidemic in care homes but since the care homes action plan began we are seeing an appreciable and substantial reduction, not just in the number of outbreaks but also in the number of deaths.”