The government sent a letter to health care providers warning them to “take the necessary measures to prevent and limit outbreaks”.
The letter, from Stuart Miller, director of adult social care delivery at the Department of Health and Social Affairs (DHSC), read: “You already know that we are seeing an increase in COVID-19[feminine[feminine case in the British population.
“I must alert you to the first signs that this increase is also reflected in retirement homes.
“Over the past three days, Public Health England has reported an increase in notifications of COVID-19 cases in nursing homes.
“The test data also showed an increase in the number of positive results.
“Currently, infections mainly affect the workforce, but there is clearly a risk that the virus will spread to residents of health facilities or other parts of the care sector.
“Unfortunately, in some care homes with recent outbreaks this appears to have happened with residents also being infected. ”
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The Sunday Times said Health Secretary Matt Hancock was told on Wednesday that outbreaks had been detected in 43 nursing homes.
The rate of coronavirus recorded through satellite tests, used in nursing homes, has quadrupled since the start of the month, the newspaper added.
It comes as more than 3,000 cases of coronavirus have been recorded in the UK for the second day in a row – as of 9 a.m. on Saturday there had been 3,497 laboratory-confirmed cases, slightly fewer than the 3,539 cases recorded on Friday.
A spokesperson for DHSC said: “Throughout our response to the coronavirus, we have done everything we can to ensure that all staff and residents of care homes are protected.
Meanwhile, the Sunday Telegraph reported that up to 4.5 million people at risk of serious illness from COVID-19 may be asked to stay in their homes again.
The journal said they would be identified based on factors such as underlying health issues, age, gender and weight.
The DHSC said all aspects of its response to the pandemic are “kept under review and in accordance with the advice of our scientific and medical experts.”