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A fifth of health and social care workers test positive for the virus

More than one in five of health and social care workers in Somerset tested for Covid-19 in April had the virus, figures have revealed.

And deaths among people placed in care homes by the council last month  were around 50 per cent  higher than the April average for recent years.

The measure indicates 32 additional deaths among council-funded care home residents in April compared to a rolling average over the last three years, but does not confirm how many deaths were caused by coronavirus.

The total number of deaths was 98, compared to 66 on average in previous years.

Somerset County Council has published a breakdown of the number of front-line staff members that have been tested, as part of the government drive to expand testing.

Just under 1,000 employees have been tested for covid-19 in April, with more than 20 per cent testing positive.

The testing breakdown was published by a virtual meeting of the council’s adults and health scrutiny committee on Wednesday morning (May 6).

As of April 25 (the most recent figures available), 945 health and social care employees have been tested in local testing centres across Somerset.

Of these, 197 unfortunately tested positive for the virus – the equivalent of 21 per cent, or just over one in five people.

Of the remainder, 699 tested negative (74 per cent), 43 results had yet to be confirmed, five people’s results were “indeterminate” (i.e. neither positive nor negative) and one person’s result was “inhibitory”.

The largest proportion of staff tested (466 out of 945, or 49 per cent) worked for the Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton along with the county’s community hospitals and minor injury units.

Yeovil Hospital saw 131 of its employees tested, with a further 205 being staff working in care homes.

The remaining 143 individuals tested came from primary care (including GPs – 87 tested), social care (21), the ambulance service (17), hospices (seven), community pharmacies (six) and one private healthcare facility (five).

Mel Lock, the council’s director of adult services, said the council’s new “admission avoidance and hospital discharge system” was ensuring acute hospitals could cope with the flow of patients.

She said: “Community health and social care teams are coordinating all care from a new hub, building on existing arrangements.

“This capacity has been expanded considerably in response to the current situation, with more rapid response, more home support, and additional intermediate bed capacity.”

As of April 28 (the most recent figures published by the council), 98 people who received council-funding placements in nursing homes had died – higher than the three-year rolling average of 66.

Ms Lock said: “Of course not all of these deaths were covid-related.”

The number of new permanent admissions to care homes has fallen compared to 12 months ago – though the number of temporary admissions has quadrupled in the same period.

The council said it is working on new ways of updating the public about the number of cases logged and the number of tests taken.

Director of public health Trudi Grant said: “We are working on developing a dashboard for the public that will track things in Somerset.

“That is just being finished off at the moment.”

By Daniel Mumby, local democracy reporting partnership

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