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Call for more tests in care homes after 13 residents die in Glasgow

The chair of Stormont's Health Committee has called for increased safety measures and testing in care homes.

Colm Gildernew was speaking after reports emerged that 13 people were thought to have died in a week from a suspected Covid-19 outbreak at a Scottish care home.

The Sinn Fein MLA said families have expressed concerns for the welfare of older relatives who are living in residential and care homes.

"As these are some of the most at-risk and vulnerable members of our society, increased safety and testing measures should be put in place to protect both residents and staff," he said.

"This should include additional resources and access to appropriate medical support, increased testing through regular checking of temperatures of residents and staff, and additional personal protective equipment to allow this to happen."

Mr Gildernew said the aim was to enable the public health authorities "to identify any potential clusters and to take steps to isolate those who test positive in order to protect others".

"It would also help keep staff safe so they can look after and protect other residents," he said.

"There should also be a role for the RQIA, the independent health and social care regulator, to ensure safety and provide assurances about the quality of care patients and residents are receiving.

"We have been calling for additional support for this sector and increased protections." Mr Gildernew said he has discussed the issue with Sinn Fein's health spokespeople in the Republic "to share best practice in order to give us the best chance in the fightback against Covid-19".

All 13 residents at Burlington Court Care Home in Glasgow are believed to have died from the virus and two of its staff members are being treated in separate hospitals after testing positive for Covid-19.

Four Seasons Health Care, which runs Burlington Court, said it had "strict protocols on infectious diseases" in place including social distancing during "these exceptional circumstances".

Six residents of a Londonderry care home tested positive for the virus last month. One of them later died.

Belfast Telegraph