Councils have ordered care homes to go into immediate lockdown as fears rise over the spread of coronavirus infections which is currently accelerating throughout the country.
This latest move comes just weeks after families were allowed back into care homes to visit their loved ones, following 5 months of lockdown. The care home sector, which struggled under the strain at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, is in chaos over the latest guidance.
In a news exclusive ITN News reports seeing letters from councils in Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland as well as other councils stating that family visits must now be cancelled.
This week, Newcastle City council wrote in a letter: ‘Infection rates in the North East region have been increasing. The increase in infection rates appears to be most pronounced in younger adults, particularly those aged 20-29, who may form part of the provider staff team.
‘Due to the increase in infection rates we are now asking that homes temporarily suspend non-essential visits to support infection prevention and control’.
Sunderland City Council sent a letter to 84 care homes in the area, telling them to stop all ‘non-essential’ visits.
Gateshead Council said in its letter: ‘We’re afraid that we must advise that the local situation has changed, and in the past week our case rate has climbed from 6.4/100k to over 30/100k, so we now ask that you suspend visiting to protect residents.’
In an email sent to a care home, Gateshead Council told the care home even outdoor visits are not allowed.
The email read: ‘The Director of Public Health has written out to all homes to ban all visits apart from End of Life so these need to stop now. Can you please let the home managers know and cancel visits ASAP.’
Visits to care home have already been prohibited in parts of the country where local lockdowns have been enforced due to rising coronavirus infection rates.
However, this now becomes the first time other parts of England have re-introduced the rigorous restrictions on care homes.
The care sector, which came under heavy pressure during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, has become increasingly frustrated by the lack of clear guidance on visits.