Care home residents have accounted for almost a third of the total number of coronavirus deaths in England and Wales, according to official figures.
More than 30,000 care home residents in England and Wales have had Covid-19 recorded on their death certificate, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
The ONS figures also show that about four in 10 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending January 15 involved coronavirus – the highest proportion recorded during the pandemic.
Tuesday’s data brings the Covid-19 death toll to more than 115,000 across the UK.
For the first time the ONS has released data bringing together the deaths of care home residents both in care homes and other settings, covering all of 2020 and the first weeks of January 2021.
It shows that, as of January 15 2021, 30,851 care home resident deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered.
Also up to this point, some 94,971 deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales had been registered.
This means care home residents account for 32.4% of all the Covid-19 deaths in England and Wales that have been registered so far.
Helen Wildbore, director of the Relatives & Residents Association, said: “These are heartbreaking figures which belie the ‘protective ring’ the Government claim to have thrown around care homes.
“These figures will be alarming and concerning for residents and their relatives, but also frustrating given the sacrifices families are making around contact, yet the virus is still getting into care homes.”
So far, a total of 108,084 deaths have been registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
Since these statistics were compiled, a further 7,162 deaths have occurred in England, plus 176 in Scotland, 203 in Wales and 157 in Northern Ireland, according to additional data published on the Government’s coronavirus dashboard.
This means that so far 115,782 deaths involving Covid-19 have taken place in the UK.
Figures for the week ending January 15 show there were 7,245 deaths registered where “novel coronavirus” was mentioned on the death certificate in England and Wales, a 19.6% rise from the previous week.
It is also the third highest weekly number recorded during the pandemic and, at 40.2%, the week with the highest proportion of deaths involving Covid-19 recorded so far.
The number of deaths involving Covid-19 in care homes continued to rise, with 1,271 deaths in care homes registered in the week ending January 15.
This is up 32.3% from 960 the previous week.
Overall, there were 1,719 deaths of care home residents involving coronavirus either at the care home, in hospital or another location.
This is up 25.4% from the previous seven days and the highest number since the week ending May 21.
Separate Care Quality Commission data shows it was notified of 2,314 deaths of care home residents in the week ending January 22.
This is a rise of 32% from the 1,752 notifications it received in the week ending January 15.
More than half (57.4%) of hospital deaths and a third (35.9%) of care home deaths registered in the latest week involved Covid-19, the figures show.
Nuffield Trust deputy director of research Sarah Scobie said: The building pressure is still felt right across the health and care system and, as we have only recently hit record daily reporting of deaths, we know registrations will remain high for another few weeks.
“The number of registered deaths from Covid of care home residents has increased by 25% since last week.
“The sector is again feeling the strain and, while the vaccine rollout for the most vulnerable is continuing at impressive speed, it will be a while until the benefits feed through to the figures.”
Prof Sheila Bird, from the MRC Biostatistics Unit, University of Cambridge, said: “It is too early to know if the peak of Covid-mention deaths in England and Wales has been reached in the week ending 15 January 2021 or if there is worse to come in the subsequent two weeks.”
It is also not certain whether the number of weekly registered deaths will exceed the pandemic’s previous highest weekly peak, but “we should be fearful”, she added.
The Independent Care Group, which represents providers in York and North Yorkshire, said the fact that care home residents have made up almost a third of coronavirus deaths “demonstrates that Covid-19 has taken an awful toll and is still claiming too many lives”.
Chairman Mike Padgham said: “At the start of the pandemic there is no doubt that care and nursing homes did not get the protection they needed and were at the back of the queue when it came to getting access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and proper testing, which might explain why the sector has suffered so much.”