• Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand

More than 12,500 care home residents have now died having contracted coronavirus, new figures show.

The majority of the deaths occurred in the care home the patient was living in.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that just over one in four of all deaths among care home residents in England and Wales between March 2 and May 1 involved Covid-19.

It comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the government will test every staff member and every resident of care homes in England for Covid-19 between now and June.

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Of 45,899 care home residents who died during this period, 27 per cent (12,526) had Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate.

Some 9,039 (72 per cent) of the deaths occurred within a care home - while 27 per cent were in hospitals.

The latest data includes all care home residents who died after testing positive for the virus, either at their care home or in hospital.

This pushes the overall care home resident death figure 51 per cent higher than the 8,312 reported by the ONS on Tuesday.

The black line shows the overall deaths in care homes in England and Wales from last year. Credit: PA Graphics

According to the latest data, Covid-19 was the leading cause of death for male care home residents in England and Wales during the period - accounting for 30.3 per cent of deaths.

27%

Care home deaths in England and Wales between March 2 and May 1 involved Covid-19.

Covid-19 was the second leading cause of death in female care home residents, after dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, accounting for 23.5% of deaths.

Of all hospital deaths involving Covid-19 during this period, 14.6% were accounted for by care home residents.

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The latest ONS data also showed an increase both in deaths involving Covid-19 and those not involving Covid-19 among care home residents, since March.

Some 73,180 deaths occurred among care home residents in England and Wales up to May 1 this year - an increase of 23,136 from the same period last year.

Of these "excess deaths," some 12,526 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate.

Sarah Deeny, assistant director of data analytics at the Health Foundation, said the data "shows that previous figures have significantly underestimated the extent of Covid-19-related deaths among residents".

Of the Covid-19 deaths reported during this period, 42.5% of patients had dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Credit: PA Graphics

Ms Deeny said: "This worrying data reveals the extent of the human cost of the crisis, which has already taken many lives and affected thousands of families who have lost loved ones."

She added: "For all causes of death, the proportion of deaths among care home residents in hospitals has declined from last year.

"While we would expect a high proportion of these deaths to occur within care homes, and in many cases this will be the right choice for patients, this does raise the question of whether more residents should be treated in hospitals and whether they are being provided with high-quality end of life care."

There have been issues with supply of PPE to the NHS and care homes during the crisis. Credit: PA

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said the data tells "a pretty alarming story."

She said: "It's not just the many deaths of older people directly attributed to the virus that cause us concern, but also the spike in deaths accounted for by other things.

"Behind these statistics there are real older people whose lives were tragically cut short, and families and friends left to carry on knowing that in other circumstances their loved ones may have survived."

Ms Abrahams pointed to issues around PPE and testing in care homes:

"It is clear that problems remain in accessing enough PPE (personal protective equipment) and tests, and in the last seven days a further 400 care homes reported a Covid-19 outbreak, showing we are still very much in the midst of the crisis."

Shadow social care minister Liz Kendall said it was "clear that the virus is having an even bigger impact on care home residents than was first thought".

She added: "The government has been too slow to get to grips with this problem.

The issue of care homes caused a row during Prime Minisiter's Questions earlier in the week, with Sir Keir Starmer and Boris Johnson clashing over what advice was issued to care homes - and at what point in the outbreak.

On the latest figures, a Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said:

"Every death from this virus is a tragedy and we are working around the clock to give the social care sector the equipment and support they need to tackle this unprecedented global pandemic.

"This includes continuing to make sure millions of items of PPE are available to care workers, using our increased testing capacity to test care home residents, staff and their families regardless of symptoms and our new £600 million Infection Control Fund to help prevent spread in care homes."

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