ANXIOUS care providers are urging caution over the Christmas period as they fear a third wave of Covid-19 after the festive break.
The call comes after latest figures showed a further 544 people had died from coronavirus in care and nursing homes across England and Wales.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) is worried that the Government has opened the door to further Covid-19 infections by relaxing restrictions over Christmas.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “Covid-19 hasn’t gone away, and we are seeing infection rates rise again in many parts of the country. The last thing we need is for the Christmas period to spark a third wave before we have the chance to make progress on the vaccine programme.
“The Government said restrictions could be relaxed over Christmas but maybe that is sending the wrong message. Of course, we all want to see our loved ones, and nobody wants to spoil the Christmas spirit. But just at this critical period maybe we all have to heed what ministers are now saying and do the minimum over Christmas and keep the celebrations until we are free from Covid-19.
“In care settings we look after the most vulnerable and most susceptible to Covid-19 and have seen up close the tragedy it brings to our loved ones. We have come so far and with vaccinations starting it would be awful to take a backward step now and let the virus take a hold again.”
Today’s figures show that 544 people died from Covid-19 in care and nursing homes in the week up to 4th December, a slight fall on 571 the previous week. Some 18,434 people died from Covid19 in care and nursing homes between 28th December and 4th December.
Mr Padgham added: “Any fall in deaths is welcome news, but we have to be guarded and wait to see if there is a lag in the figures and we see deaths rise again following the end of the total lockdown.”
The ICG represents care providers who look after people in their own homes, in care and nursing homes and extra care housing as well as providing day care and support for those with learning disabilities and mental health problems.