More than a third of coronavirus-related deaths among care home residents, new figures show
New figures from the ONS found deaths in care homes had soared (PA)
More than a third of the UK's coronavirus-related deaths have been among care home residents, new figures have shown.
New data from the Office for National Statistics show there were 12,526 deaths in care homes in England and Wales during March and April where Covid-19 was listed on the death certificate.
Researchers said they would now also investigate the causes of the additional surge in deaths not attributed to the virus.
The stark figures also showed that Covid-19 had become the leading cause of death in male care home residents during the period, accounting for 30.3% of all deaths.
And it was the second biggest killer among females accounting for 23.5% of fatalities, behind dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Meanwhile, the group said care homes in the South East had the highest number of coronavirus deaths, while London had the highest proportion of deaths linked to the disease.
The report added: "When looking at the regions of England, the highest number of deaths involving the coronavirus in care home residents was in the South East with 2,109 deaths.
"However, London had the highest proportion of deaths involving Covid-19 accounting for 25.7% of deaths in care home residents.
"The South West had the lowest proportion of deaths involving COVID-19 accounting for 12.9% of deaths in care home residents."
The analysis comes amid growing anger at the Government's response to the crisis, with Labour's Shadow Social Care minister Liz Kendall saying the figures were "terrible news".
But speaking earlier this week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was "really unfair" to suggest the government had failed the sector.
"The reason is this: Some of our most vulnerable people live in care homes and yet only around a quarter of deaths have been in care homes," he said.
"That is much lower than most international comparators.
"And at the same time, we've put in place those measures to protect people in care homes."
Responding to the figures, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Every death from this virus is a tragedy and we are working around the clock to give the social care sector the equipment and support they need to tackle this unprecedented global pandemic.
“This includes continuing to make sure millions of items of PPE are available to care workers, using our increased testing capacity to test care home residents, staff and their families, regardless of symptoms and our new £600m Infection Control Fund to help prevent spread in care homes.
“We are continuing to work closely with the ONS, PHE and the CQC so we have all the information needed to continue our fight against this virus.”