Increase in confirmed Coronavirus cases amongst care home staff

Topics covered: care homes, COVID-19, government, infection control, Nythan Smith

The Government wrote to care homes and local authority partners on 11 September 2020 confirming that there has been an increase in the number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus in care homes. The rise in numbers seems to be affecting staff rather than residents, but given the proximity within the settings it might follow that there will be an increase in the numbers of residents with the virus.

As it currently stands the UK has increased its capacity for testing for Coronavirus to its highest level since the start of the pandemic at almost 250k tests per day.  The current capacity for completing tests is only slightly higher than the daily number of tests completed.  If more tests are conducted then this increases the opportunity to identify more cases.  We are promised in the letter a new publication of the Adult Social Care Winter Plan which will set out the Government’s strategy for managing the spread of the virus.

From July 2020 care home staff have been provided with Coronavirus tests weekly with tests available every 28 days for residents on a routine basis.  A recent study lead by Imperial College London (the largest of its kind) into home Coronavirus testing has found that, unlike as appeared to be the case at the start of the pandemic, transmission of Coronavirus appeared to be more prevalent outside of healthcare settings and larger rises proportionately, of Coronavirus, were noted for the 18-24 age bracket and in several areas in the North of England.  This suggests that whilst rises have been noted in staff of care homes, as above, that the source of such transmissions may well be from contact with people fitting the younger age demographic and geography.  This may be a testament to the good infection control procedures that are in place within care home settings.  At this same time this may serve as a warning to ensure that the risk of transmission is mitigated as much as possible by care home staff when in the wider community so as to avert an increase in confirmed cases in care home settings.

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