More than four in 10 Dacorum care homes hit by the coronavirus
11 had reported a confirmed or suspected case of Covid-19
More than four in 10 care homes in Dacorum have been hit by the coronavirus, new figures show.
Public Health England (PHE) data reveals that of the 25 care homes in Dacorum, 11 had reported a confirmed or suspected case of Covid-19 up to May 3.
It means that 44 per cent of residential and nursing homes had been hit by the virus.
However, PHE says the data contains no indication of whether the reported outbreaks are still active.
The Prime Minister has said that "awful" epidemics in care homes and the NHS had to be reversed, and that the emphasis on testing must remain to keep pushing infections down nationally.
The rate in Dacorum is higher than across the rest of the East of England, where 33 per cent of care homes have been affected so far. Across England, 33 per cent reported cases.
Visits to care homes from families and friends have significantly reduced during the lockdown in order to protect vulnerable residents, while inspections by the Care Quality Commission have been paused for most residences.
But separate figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal more than a fifth of coronavirus-related deaths in England and Wales up to April 24 had occurred in care homes.
In his recent speech to the nation, Boris Johnson said: "We must reverse rapidly the awful epidemics in care homes and in the NHS, and though the numbers are coming down sharply now, there is plainly much more to be done.
"And if we are to control this virus, then we must have a world-beating system for testing potential victims, and for tracing their contacts."
The Department of Health and Social Care said last week that it was supporting the adult social care sector through the outbreak, following concerns that frontline care workers were struggling to access Covid-19 tests and personal protective equipment.
However Nicola Richards, director of Sheffield-based care home group Palms Row Health Care, said the sector is "on a cliff edge", with homes across the UK facing closure as they spend an extra £38.6 million per week on Covid-19 costs.
She added: "Care homes provide a vital national service and instead of being fully resourced we are facing a three-wave tsunami which could destroy the sector.
"We should have been afforded the focus, support and protection like the NHS. Sadly, care homes have taken the full force of the impact of this pandemic because of Government policy and this could yet get worse."
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said the Government is working "around the clock" to ensure the sector in England is getting the support it needs to tackle the pandemic.
"We have launched a comprehensive action plan and provided £3.2 billion to local authorities to help them deal with the impacts of the pandemic on public services, including adult social care," they said.