By Mari Eccles and Claire Miller
NEARLY two-thirds of care homes in the borough have reported outbreaks of coronavirus – one of the highest rates in the country.
There were 35 suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in the borough’s 30 care homes between March 9 and May 10, according to data released by Public Health England (PHE).
Some 64 percent of Wigan borough’s care homes have been hit by an outbreak, according to figures released by Public Health England.
It means the borough has the highest proportion of affected care homes in the north west and one of the highest in England.
Only a handful of local authorities – mainly in London – have seen a higher proportion of their care homes hit by the virus.
A Wigan Council spokesperson said: “Our thoughts and sympathies are with the families of anyone who has sadly passed away through the coronavirus outbreak.
“Unfortunately care homes support people who are most vulnerable to the virus and across the country we are seeing the impact of this. As a borough we have been very active in encouraging and supporting comprehensive testing in our care homes, so we have a very accurate picture of the number of cases.
“Since the start of the outbreak, care homes have stringently followed guidance and protocol to prevent the spread of the virus.
“The council has continued to step up its own rollout of personal protective equipment (PPE) amid difficulties with the national supply chain, with council bosses sourcing up to 50,000 masks a week through a private company.
“We would like to thank all our incredible care home staff who continue to work around the clock caring for residents during these challenging times”
Across England, a total of 5,546 suspected or confirmed Covid-19 outbreaks have been reported in care homes.
This data comes from reports to Public Health England (PHE) of infectious disease outbreaks in residential and nursing homes.
Any individual care home will only be included in the dataset once. If a care home has reported more than one outbreak, only the first is included in this dataset.
However, it’s not possible to know from the data if the reported outbreaks are still ongoing.
In the week ending May 10, 418 new outbreaks were reported – that was a drop from 699 a week before.
Care homes in the North East appear to have been hardest hit by Covid-19 – nearly half (48 percent) have reported an outbreak.
That compares to a quarter (26 percent) in the South West.
In Greater Manchester as a whole, 45 percent of the region’s 566 care homes have had cases – a total of 254 suspected or confirmed Covid-19 outbreaks between March 9 and May 10.
Greater Manchester has developed its own hospital-style alert system for care homes in response to the crisis, and was designed to flag any potential concerns around the outbreak and PPE shortages.
The mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said in his most recent weekly press conference he was watching the situation ‘incredibly closely’.
Separate figures released by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) last week show that nearly 500 care home residents in the region have died after contracting coronavirus.