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Care home Covid deaths may be ‘under-reported’, suggests PHE review


By Sofia Lind
Editor
4 June 2020

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More than twice as many care home residents have died in recent months than would usually be expected, but less than half of these deaths have been linked with Covid-19.

A review from Public Health England said this could mean there were many excess deaths from other causes, or that there has been an ‘under-reporting’ of deaths from Covid-19 in care homes.

This comes despite care home deaths in the same time period accounting for over a quarter (27%) of all registered Covid-19 deaths.

PHE’s review into the disparities in the risk and outcomes from Covid-19, published on Tuesday (2 June), said: ‘Our analyses show that there have been 2.3 times the number of deaths in care homes than expected between 20 March and 7 May when compared to previous years, which equates to around 20,457 excess deaths.

‘The number of Covid-19 deaths over this period is equivalent to 46.4% of the excess suggesting that there are many excess deaths from other causes or an under-reporting of deaths from Covid-19.

The report, which confirmed suspicions that people of BAME origin are of much greater risk of death from the disease, further concluded that the highest risk factor from Covid-19 was age.

It said: ‘Among people with a positive test, when compared with those under 40, those who were 80 or older were seventy times more likely to die. These are the largest disparities found in this analysis and are consistent with what has been previously reported in the UK.’

The report found that the ‘risk of dying among those diagnosed with Covid-19 was also higher in males than females’; and ‘higher in those living in the more deprived areas than those living in the least deprived’.

This comes as the CQC announced the number of people with a learning disability, who have died while in a care setting, has more than doubled in a single year.

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