Coronavirus ‘almost a perfect killing machine for elderly patients’, US nursing home chief warns

Kirkland Fire and Rescue ambulance workers walk back to a vehicle after a patient was loaded into an ambulance, Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., near Seattle. The nursing home is at the center of the outbreak of the new coronavirus in Washington state. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
The Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, near Seattle, is at the heart of a coronavirus outbreak. (AP)

The president of the American Health Care Association president has described the coronavirus as “almost a perfect killing machine for elderly patients” as the outbreak continues to spread.

Mark Parkinson has warned people to stop visiting their relatives and friends in nursing homes to halt the spread of Covid-19.

He suggested US citizens phone, text or video-call their loved ones until circumstances improve.

"We are encouraging all people, including family members and loved ones, to not visit nursing homes and assisted living facilities,” Parkinson said.

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He added: "The grim reality is that, for the elderly, Covid-19 is almost a perfect killing machine.”

There have been 1,050 confirmed coronavirus infections in the US, with 29 deaths and eight people recovering, according to John Hopkins university.

In the UK, the chancellor has promised the NHS “whatever it needs” in terms of funding to tackle the spread of coronavirus, as the number of UK cases more than doubled in just four days.

Rishi Sunak set out plans for the health service in his Budget and pledged security and support for those who are sick and unable to work due to the spread of Covid-19.

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Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak stands outside No 11 Downing Street and holds up the traditional red box that contains the budget speech for the media, he will then leave to make budget speech to House of Commons, in London, Wednesday, March 11, 2020. Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak will announce the first budget since Britain left the European Union. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Britain's chancellor Rishi Sunak stands outside 11 Downing Street and holds up the traditional red box that contains the Budget speech. (AP)

Meanwhile, the Department of Health said 456 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 9am on Wednesday, up from 373 at the same point on Tuesday.

This is the largest day-on-day jump in cases, with cases more than doubling in just four days.

Sunak said: “Whatever extra resources our NHS needs to cope with coronavirus it will get… Whether it’s millions of pounds or billions of pounds, whatever it needs, whatever it costs, we stand behind our NHS.”

He offered support to any workers who become too ill to work, with new measures including the ability to obtain a sick note by contacting 111 rather than having to visit a GP.

And he said those working in the gig economy or who are self-employed will get quicker and easier access to benefits.

Read more: Coronavirus: Number of UK cases jumps to 456

Sunak said he was setting aside a £5bn emergency response fund to support the NHS and other public services, adding that he “will go further if necessary”.

It comes after the government said there were no plans to test any ministers, including Boris Johnson, for Covid-19 after health minister Nadine Dorries announced she had the virus.

Labour MP for York Central Rachael Maskell said she is self-isolating on the advice of NHS 111 following a meeting with Dorries last Thursday.