THE true coronavirus death toll in the UK could be 50 per cent higher than official figures show – with at least 18,000 people losing their lives to the killer bug.
Pressure is mounting on the government to release the number of care home deaths after hidden victims outside of hospitals were yesterday revealed.
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The Office for National Statistics found Covid-19 was responsible for 6,235 deaths in England and Wales by April 3 – including backdated hospital deaths and those who died elsewhere.
This figure is almost 2,000 higher than the official number reported by the Department of Health, which only records hospital deaths, on April 4.
If the 50 per cent was applied to yesterday's official death toll of 12,107, the true number of coronavirus victims in the UK could be around 18,400.
The ONS also found 217 care home deaths were linked to coronavirus by April 3 – ten times more than the 20 reported at the end of the previous week.
But some experts have warned as many as 4,000 care home residents may have lost their lives without their deaths being officially recorded yet.
MPs as well as care industry campaigners have now warned of an “unfolding horror” that could claim the lives of thousands of victims.
Care homes are complaining they are being overlooked by UK authorities and are in desperate need for safety equipment for their staff.
The government is facing calls to roll out more tests are nursing facilities and to provide more protective gear for workers.
Industry leaders from Age UK, Marie Curie, Care England, Independent Age and the Alzheimer's Society have also all demanded a daily update on deaths in the care system in the official UK total.
Caroline Abrahams, Age UK director, said: "The current figures are airbrushing older people out like they don't matter."
About 410,000 people live in care homes in the UK, living in 11,300 care homes for older people supplied by 5,500 different providers.
Britain’s biggest private care home provider HC-One said 311 of its residents and one staff member had died from the infection.
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Two-thirds of its 345 homes have been hit, with 2,450 suspected or confirmed coronavirus cases.
Thirteen residents at one home in Co Durham have died, with similar numbers dying at other locations in Yorkshire, Northamptonshire, Essex, Liverpool and Scotland.
And London School of Economics researchers believe half of all virus deaths are in care homes.
It comes as a single care home in Selston, Notts, lost a fifth of their residents to coronavirus.
Manager Anita Peet conceded she is fighting a losing battle at the Wren Hall Nursing Home and has slammed the lack of help from health chiefs in the crisis.
Ten residents died over Easter weekend at the home with all but one confirmed to be from the killer bug and another 15 are in isolation.
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Mrs Peet said: “We are just having deaths all the time.
“Are people dispensable? It feels as if people are not worth saving. But that is certainly not how we feel.
“It’s getting harder and harder every day. We’re fighting a losing battle.
“It is awful that people are not being able to prepare for this, to spend quality time with loved ones. It is making the whole situation more challenging.
"We call our residents’ family members because they are part of our family. It is just tearing staff apart watching this unfold.”
The Department of Health yesterday confirmed a total of 12,107 people have died from the bug in hospital in the UK – a rise of 778.
Positive Covid-19 cases also rose to 93,873 from 88,621 yesterday as Britain continues its fourth week of lockdown.
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