Multiple care home deaths as Covid cases increase in Northumberland's older population

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Covid cases in Northumberland are starting to increase in older people, while two care homes in the county have seen ‘a number of deaths’.

The bulk of the increase in cases from the summer through September and October was in younger adults, which director of public health Liz Morgan previously described as ‘probably not surprising’ following the easing of lockdown.

But providing an update to county councillors on Tuesday, November 3, Dr Jim Brown, a public health consultant, said: “We’re just starting in the last couple of weeks to see a small increase in that over-65 age group.

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“Compared to other areas of the North East, it had been quite stable for quite a lot of September and October, but in the last two weeks we’ve seen a small rise in that over-65 age group and particularly in the over-75 age group.

Covid cases have been on the rise among Northumberland's older populationCovid cases have been on the rise among Northumberland's older population
Covid cases have been on the rise among Northumberland's older population

“That’s very important for our most vulnerable populations who are most likely to have the most severe harms from Covid.”

Moving onto care homes, he said: “We had 11 notifications of cases or outbreaks last week.

“I’m pleased to say that for the majority, the work of the wrap-around care sector group is managing to prevent increases, through the work of the care-home staff, but with a lot of support from infection prevention control, the CCG and the local authority.

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“But we have seen two care homes that have had a larger number of cases and a number of deaths, which is very unfortunate and sad for all involved, particularly given the visiting policy has been restricted in recent weeks.”

Cath McEvoy-Carr, the council’s executive director of adult services, described the care-home outbreaks as ‘extraordinarily concerning’, adding: “We do have our infection control and public health teams who are assisting some of our homes in managing that and supporting them in how to access and utilise PPE in the most appropriate way.

“The restrictions on visiting for relatives is causing a great deal of distress, we are acutely aware of that and we are trying to find ways we might safely be able to assist with visiting within our care homes.”

Dr Brown explained that there had been a recent regional review of the visiting policy, although that may now be affected by the details of the second lockdown starting on Thursday, November 5.

“What we’re really aware of is trying to balance between the risk of introducing infection – and we know relatives are a relatively small risk if it’s managed properly with all the infection-control measures in place – versus the effects on people’s mental wellbeing,” he added.

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