More Covid outbreaks in Northamptonshire's care sector despite 'major milestone' in delivering jabs
Hopes dashed for loved ones hoping for early easing of visiting restrictions
Northamptonshire care homes are battling more Covid outbreaks despite Government claims of a 'major milestone' in delivering vaccines.
Official figures revealed 28 known coronavirus-related deaths among residents in the county's 250 care homes in just five days, between Monday and Friday last week — more than ten per cent of the total since April.
Local health chiefs have admitted the number of outbreaks and associated cases in care settings is still rising despite ramping up testing.
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And they are keen to play down hopes of restrictions on visits from loved ones being loosened anytime soon.
Social Care Minister Helen Whately said the Government is working on "what we can do to enable visiting" again after announcing that jabs have been offered to every care home in England where it was possible for teams to go in.
NHS chiefs added a "small remainder" have had visits deferred for safety reasons during a local outbreak and will be jabbed as soon as NHS staff are allowed to do so.
"Any care home that hasn't been contacted, just let me know and I will personally follow up," she told the BBC.
But Northampton's Acting Director of Adult Social Care, Katie Brown, warned: “Given the current outbreaks and infection rates in Northamptonshire we are still advising that care home visiting should only be in exceptional circumstances, as per the guidance.
"This is being frequently reviewed by the Director of Public Health and the Director of Adult Social Services”.
The vaccination programme, the biggest in NHS history, is on target to meet a Government target of vaccinating all care home residents and carers, over-70s and frontline care workers by February 15.
In Northamptonshire, more than 76,000 people out of a target of 135,000 received a first dose by January 24, including an unknown number of care home residents and staff.
Friday's weekly County Council media briefing was told local Public Health teams were dealing with active outbreaks — two or more cases in the last 28 days — in 48 care settings involving 535 cases.
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Of those 17 were in Northampton, seven in Kettering and six in East Northamptonshire,
No figures are made public for how many jabs have been delivered in care homes but local officials say NHS teams are still revisiting homes to vaccinate anyone stopped from having it because they had recently had Covid or for other clinical reasons.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the achievement of reaching 10,000 care homes as a "crucial milestone" after setting a target of jabbing 15million people in the top four priority groups before February 15.