| 7.9°C Belfast

Coronavirus: Almost 300 Covid-19 cases in Northern Ireland care homes

Close

Concerns were raised early in the coronavirus outbreak that care homes would be adversely affected.

Concerns were raised early in the coronavirus outbreak that care homes would be adversely affected.

Concerns were raised early in the coronavirus outbreak that care homes would be adversely affected.

Northern Ireland's health authorities said there have been almost 300 cases of Covid-19 reported in care homes.

As of Monday, April 20, there was 297 confirmed cases in 57 of Northern Ireland's almost 500 care homes.

Some of the homes have reported a number of residents sadly passed away after contracting the disease.

It comes after it was revealed that union Unite has reached an agreement with the Department of Health (DoH) to redeploy staff to care homes to help out during the pandemic.

However, chief executive of Independent Health and Care Providers Pauline Shepherd said the measure should have been introduced sooner when it was known care homes would have been adversely affected.

She said she had discussed support with health officials at the beginning of March.

She said there was 16,000 care home beds across Northern Ireland although there was not full occupancy. She said, people in care homes were not just elderly and there would be residents with health complications and mental illness.

"The issue is that, yes that PHA has been providing advice on how to control, and how to manage the virus, but we now need the health system to come in and support care homes in relation to helping with staffing," she told BBC's Stephen Nolan Show.

Unite's Kevin McAdam told BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster that staff would have the choice of working in the homes and must be given the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

"The standards that our workers would have must go with them," he said.

The DoH said the agreement was part of finalising new guidance for care homes.

The Public Health Agency (PHA) said it took a precautionary approach to all respiratory infection cases.

"Individuals are treated as Covid-19 patients regardless of whether tests have been conducted or have produced a positive result," a spokesperson said.

“This mirrors the approach that has been taken in wider society, where individuals displaying even mild symptoms are asked to self-isolate.

"Although statistics are important they are of secondary importance to ensuring the right care provision and infection control measures are put in place.”

Belfast Telegraph