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Coronavirus: Care homes in England to get £546m extra funding

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A woman takes a photo of her relative during the lockdown in May, when visits were banned

Care homes in England will receive extra funding of £546m to try to reduce transmission of coronavirus during the winter, the government has announced.

The money helps to pay workers full wages when they are self-isolating, and ensures carers only work in one care home, reducing the spread of the virus.

The fund was set up in May and has been extended until March 2021.

In an interview with the Sun, the PM warned family visits to care homes may also need to be restricted.

“I’m afraid it’s an incredibly difficult thing, but we are going to have to place some restrictions on people – visitors – being able to go into care homes,” he said.

The funding allows for money to be made available to help care workers reduce their use of public transport, and stock up on personal protective equipment, according to Mr Johnson.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the extra funding would bring “peace of mind” to many in the social care sector.

It comes as new coronavirus restrictions are expected to be announced in north-east England, where cases have been on the rise.

Coronavirus swept through UK care homes during the peak of the outbreak, with tens of thousands of deaths.

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Media captionLynn hasn’t seen her husband, who has dementia, for six weeks due to care home restrictions

In the House of Commons on Wednesday, the prime minister admitted that the government was “concerned about the rates of infection in care homes” and promised a new action plan.

It followed Labour’s call on Monday for a “clear winter plan” to protect care homes amid signs they are experiencing a rise in coronavirus cases.

Ministers have also promised to make people in care homes a priority for coronavirus tests – along with the NHS – amid ongoing issues with the UK’s testing system.

A surge in demand for coronavirus tests has led to local shortages, with many people reporting problems securing online bookings and being directed to test sites hundreds of miles from home.

The large Lighthouse laboratories, run by the government to analyse test swabs from all the UK nations, have been under strain to process them all.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will announce who will be prioritised for tests in the coming days.

Last week, the government wrote to care home bosses in England to warn them of a surge in new virus infections within the sector.

Cases were mainly among staff but there was a risk it could spread to residents, they said.

In July, care homes in England were allowed to reopen again for family visits – as long as local authorities and public health teams said it was safe. There went on to be a similar reopening of homes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

However, many care homes have not yet fully reopened – including with strict rules over visitors and or banning them completely.

Almost 30,000 more care home residents in England and Wales died during the coronavirus outbreak than during the same period in 2019, Office for National Statistics figures published in July show. But only two-thirds were directly attributable to Covid-19.

According to the figures, there were just over 66,000 deaths of care home residents in England and Wales between 2 March and 12 June this year, compared to just under 37,000 deaths last year.

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