Posted: Wed 15th Apr 2020

“Three in ten” care homes in Wales have suspected or confirmed cases as Health Minister clarifies statistical releases

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Apr 15th, 2020

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Health Minister Vaughan Gething today outlined the differences in coronavirus death data, saying he wishes to be ‘as transparent as possible’ after he was posed queries over care homes cases.

The Minister was asked how many care homes in Wales had reported an outbreak, and was also asked what the daily Public Health Wales death data actually refers to. Today has seen an Office of National Statistics (ONS) release that indicates the overall commonly referred to death figures are not showing the true picture, as extra deaths registered for those who passed away at home or in care homes are not included.

Wales currently does not follow England in giving per-hospital death data , rather a single figure for all of Wales.

Last week some journalists were left with the impression that figure was combined community, and hospital deaths, with the BBC journalist later quoting Public Heath Wales saying they had told him on Friday “It includes all covid deaths, not just those from hospital settings.”

Today the Health Minister sought to clarify the information when that was reiterated by another journalist in the briefing room today, with the Minister saying: “It is deaths in hospital that we are reporting in those initial figures, the ONS figures provide that broader picture.

“I’m really keen to have that broader picture, for people to have a level of trust in what we’re doing, I think we’ve got to be really upfront and honest about what we’re doing and that includes a number of people directly affected. It’s also important to reinforce the steps of public are taking in following the rules on staying at home, to know that there are hundreds of people who have died in hospital, and there are more who have died within the community as well to underscore what the reality of Coronavirus here in Wales.

“Again, my starting point today to reflect that every one of those people have friends and family, and every number is a real person who is no longer with us. That’s the fight that we’re in, in this genuinely once in a century event.”

The Minister said there are roughly three in ten of care homes in Wales with possible cases, he explained there are 1,073 care homes in Wales with 75 with confirmed coronavirus cases, and 217 with suspected cases. No geographic breakdown of those figures has been made available.

The Minister also said 128 tests have been carried out in care homes in Wales during the last week.

A question was asked on how many people have died in care homes in Wales and were suspected as having coronavirus. The Minister said, “There’s a point here that I took up last week about the way in which we’re reporting coronavirus deaths in Wales. The running total that we report and referred to earlier is deaths confirmed in hospital, it is the quickest way to report deaths. We know that there is a broader picture within the community, and this is more than just care homes of course.

“To give you an example, today, the Office of National Statistics published figures showing that in the week of the third of April, we had 157 deaths in hospital.

“What the ONS have reported is that there was 236 deaths that took place up to the 3rd of April, but were not reported up to the 11th of April. The point here is that there’s a time lag for those community deaths, that take place outside hospital.

“The ONS will in the near future be publishing those broader figures as well because I’m keen to be as transparent as possible about the impact of Coronavirus.

“We don’t want to try to give the impression that only affects people in the hospital. We know it doesn’t. We know deaths take place in other places.

“But also to honestly describe whether someone has died from Coronavirus or whether it’s a contributory factor with other healthcare conditions, and we’ll get that from that broader suite of ONS figures that will be publicly available in the near future.”

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