The care regulator for England has told ITV News that it will begin recording the number of deaths in care homes from Covid-19 from this week.
The move comes as the government faces increasing pressure to reflect the data in its daily statistics, which currently only count those dying in hospital.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) says limited availability of testing outside hospitals means the number of deaths of people in care settings with confirmed Covid-19 remains very low. From this week, they will therefore ask care providers to also record the number of suspected cases.
Currently the only data on deaths outside hospitals is provided by the Office for National Statistics. Their figures have a lag of almost two weeks and rely on doctors recording Covid-19 as a contributing factor on death certificates.
The CQC told ITV News: “We are working with ONS and Public Health England to look at how to provide a more accurate and timely picture of the impact of Covid-19 on adult social care.
"From this week, the death notifications we collect from providers will allow them to report whether the death was of a person with suspected or confirmed Covid-19."
Yesterday the Chief Medical Officer said 13.5% of care homes had reported an outbreak of Covid-19. But care providers have told ITV News that they are struggling to get the testing necessary to confirm the virus, with many residents dying without an official diagnosis.
The government has been criticised for not including care home deaths in the statistics it presents at its daily press conferences, unlike other counties such as France.
Last week the ONS reported just 20 deaths in care settings, which falls well below anecdotal numbers.
The CQC will collect its figures daily, hopefully providing a more accurate picture of the true impact of this pandemic.