According to data from some European countries, around half of the deaths from COVID-19 occur in nursing homes.
Figures from five European countries suggest that residents of nursing homes accounted for between 42% and 57% of all deaths related to COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.
The figures are contained in a report from academics at the London School of Economics, which focuses on Italy, Spain, France, Ireland and Belgium.
This suggests that the daily figures announced by the British government are largely underestimated, as there are only deaths in hospitals where a patient had tested positive for the virus.
According to data from the Johns Hopkins University in the United States, nearly two million people worldwide have been infected with the disease and about 120,000 have died after being tested positive.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said on Monday 13.5% of UK nursing homes had at least one resident with a confirmed case of coronavirus, up from 9% the previous week.
But European figures, taken between April 6 and 11, suggest a higher rate of infection and death from the disease.
In Spain, figures from media reports have shown that 57% of all deaths from COVID-19 could be in nursing homes, while official figures in Ireland show that the rate is around 54%.
In Belgium, official data showed a rate of 42% and in France, this figure was 45%. In Italy, extrapolation from an official survey showed that around 53% of deaths from COVID-19 were in nursing homes.
Researchers said that COVID-19 death registration systems in nursing homes varied by country and region.
Professor Whitty has said he would like to see more tests in nursing homes.
“One of the things we want to do is expand the number of tests performed on people in nursing homes as the capacity for testing increases in the coming weeks.
“Because nursing homes are clearly one of the areas where there is a large number of vulnerable people and it is an area at risk and we would therefore very much like to … have much more extensive testing. “
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Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said that the lack of personal protective equipment and testing had allowed COVID-19 to “go wild” in nursing homes.
“The current numbers expel the elderly as if they don’t matter,” she said.