Care providers breathed a sigh of relief today as coronavirus deaths in care and nursing homes finally showed signs of falling
But they were the first to warn against complacency as Covid-19 continues to claim the lives of those most vulnerable.
And they warned that any easing of restrictions must be gradual to avoid a new spike in cases.
Today’s figures from the Office for National Statistic show that 1,726 people died from Covid-19 in care and nursing homes in the week up to 5th February, down from 1,971 the week before.
According to these figures 28,406 people died from Covid-19 in care and nursing homes between 28th December 2019 and 5th February.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) today said the news was positive but the need to remain vigilant remained.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “Whilst today’s figures are certainly a move in the right direction, we have to remain on our guard.
“There is understandably an increasing call for restrictions to be relaxed but we have to be cautious and not come out of lockdown too quickly as I think we have done before.
“I think people would rather this was the last lockdown and so restrictions should be eased slowly and safely to avoid the figures going up again.”
He also urged anyone who had not had the vaccine to have it.
“It is clear the vaccine is going to have an impact on Covid-19 and it is the main weapon in our fight out of the pandemic,” he added. “To anyone, particularly care staff, who are hesitating I would say, have the vaccine for your own sake and for the safety of our most vulnerable.”
Dr Layla McCay, director at the NHS Confederation, said: “That the number of deaths from COVID-19 is finally starting to decline is of course good news, and is testament to the monumental efforts of the NHS to care for patients, alongside the impact of the national lockdown.
“However, we must remember that there is a long way to go yet, as the number of deaths from COVID is still very high, and still accounts for some 42.6 per cent of all deaths in England and Wales, the third highest proportion recorded during the pandemic.
“We hope to start seeing the impact of the vaccination programme soon, with more than 15 million doses now given, but it remains vital that there is clarity and certainty about supply, especially as NHS teams continue to face huge pressures, with more than 23,000 people still in hospital with COVID-19. We continue to urge the Government to be extremely cautious about easing lockdown, and to do so with these pressures at the forefront of its thinking.”