Temporary measure taken due to lack of availability of tests
Ben Coleman cabinet member for health and adult social care
Care homes in Hammersmith and Fulham are closing temporarily to new residents over concerns about the shortage of tests for asymptomatic people who could have coronavirus.
Hammersmith and Fulham council took the precautionary step after the government said it could not deliver the tests.
Ben Coleman, the cabinet member for health and adult social care said the four care homes in the borough were closing to new residents “as a precaution while NHS North West London works on a local solution for testing asymptomatic staff.”
More people in England died from coronavirus in care homes than elsewhere, according to government statistics.
Office of National Statistics data showed 14,589 care home residents died from coronavirus between March and July 24 and a quarter of them lived in homes in London.
The virus was the cause of death for 33 per cent of men and 26 per cent of women living in care homes across the country.
Coronavirus can show up in a range of symptoms, including a high temperature, a continuous cough, loss of smell and taste.
But some people do not have any of these symptoms and 40 per cent of cases could be asymptomatic according to a study of cases in an Italian town by researchers from Imperial College London and Padua University.
The government’s coronavirus recovery plan included coronavirus testing for every care home worker and resident whether they have symptoms or not with tests for the over 65s available by early June.
In a letter sent to directors of public health at councils throughout England on July 31, Professor Jane Cummings said the plans to roll out tests for care homes for the over 65s and people with dementia were delayed until early September because of “rising demand across testing and unexpected delays”.
It has emerged that just a third of care homes had received asymptomatic testing kit.
The Department of Health said, “Whole care home repeat testing is about stopping the spread of the virus rather than waiting until it is too late and having to deal with an outbreak.
“It’s about keeping staff and residents safe. It is particularly important to test staff regularly as they move in and out of care homes and so they are more likely to catch the virus from outside and potentially bring the virus into the care home.”
Julia Gregory – Local Democracy Reporter
August 15, 2020