Deaths from Covid-19 in care homes have hit levels not seen since May and look set keep on rising, the latest figures show.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that 27.6% of all care home deaths in England and Wales can now be attributed to Covid-19.In first week of January, 824 people died in a care home - highest figure since May.
A carer told ITV News UK Editor Paul Brand they were "back at breaking point".
The ONS data showed there were 3,144 deaths registered in the week ending January 1 which mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate.
Of the 4,956 deaths registered which occurred in hospitals, 47.7% involved coronavirus, up from 40.2% the previous week.
Of the 10,069 deaths registered, 31.2% mentioned Covid-19 – the highest proportion of deaths involving the virus since the week ending May 1.
According to Care Quality Commission records, 824 deaths in care homes were notified to the regulator in the week up to January 8.
This is up 24.6% from the previous week, when 661 deaths were notified, and up 55.4% from the 530 deaths notified in the week before that.
Matt Hancock said on Monday the UK is at the "worst point of this pandemic", with 32,294 people in hospital with coronavirus in the UK - the "highest ever".
The government has pledged to vaccinate all care residents before the middle of February but is encouraging everyone to follow the Covid-19 guidelines as full protection from the virus is months away.The ONS said the latest figures should be interpreted with caution as the period covered includes two bank holidays, meaning there is likely to have been a delay in some registrations.
In data for deaths in private homes across England and Wales, the ONS reported more than 40,000 extra deaths have taken place since the start of the pandemic.
Extra deaths – known as “excess deaths” – are the number of deaths that are above the average for the corresponding period in the previous five years.
A total of 40,114 excess deaths in homes in England and Wales were registered between March 7 2020 and January 1 2021, according to the ONS.
Of this number, just 3,881 – or 10% – were deaths directly involving Covid-19.
The figures show that there are still many more people than normal who are dying in their own homes.
Deaths in private homes have been consistently well above the five-year average since April 2020.
What was the regional breakdown:
Five regions of England recorded an increase in registered Covid-19 deaths in the week to January 1, the ONS said.
In the South East, 523 deaths were registered, up from 415 the previous week and the highest since the week to May 15.
London had 492 deaths, up from 299 and the highest since the week to May 1.
The North West had 359 deaths, up from 343; eastern England 325, up from 301; and the South West 158, up from 155.
There have now been 98,379 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.
A total of 93,030 have been registered where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, according to the latest reports from the UK’s statistics agencies.