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Nearly 100 Care Homes In The UK Have Reported Coronavirus Outbreaks In The Last 24 Hours

The UK government has warned that the coronavirus lockdown will remain in place in the coming weeks, as deaths continue to rise across the country.

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The chief medical officer for England, Chris Whitty, has revealed that 13.5% of care homes in the UK have so far reported coronavirus outbreaks, including 92 care homes in the last 24 hours alone.

The revelation came as the government faced questions at its press conference on why daily death figures did not include those from outside hospitals, particularly from care homes where many elderly and vulnerable people were dying from the virus.

Whitty said the Office for National Statistics published figures on deaths from outside hospitals but acknowledged these were "delayed by days" and insisted the government was "trying to shorten that period". The latest statistics were for the week ending March 27.

Some 11,329 people with coronavirus have so far died in UK hospitals as of 5pm on Sunday, according to the latest government figures released by the Department of Health and Social Care.

The UK government has also warned that the lockdown will remain in place in the coming weeks, as deaths continue to rise across the country.

Chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance said on Monday that the UK had not yet reached its peak death rate but suggested this could happen in a few days' time, followed by a "plateau" in deaths lasting two to three weeks.

It means the UK is unlikely to see an easing in strict social distancing measures until mid-May at the earliest.

Prime minister Boris Johnson, who is recovering after being hospitalised with coronavirus himself, announced the UK lockdown on March 23. People are only allowed to leave their homes for one of four reasons: to shop for basic necessities, to take one form of exercise a day, for any medical need, such as providing care for a vulnerable person, or to travel to and from work "if absolutely necessary".

This week the government's scientific advisory group for emergencies (SAGE) will meet to assess how effective the lockdown has been on limiting the spread of the virus.

Speaking at the daily press conference, first secretary of state Dominic Raab saId: "We will consider their assessment based on the evidence at that point.

"I should say we don’t expect to make any changes to the measures currently in place at that point and we won’t until we’re confident, as confident as we realistically can be, that any such changes can be safely made."

Vallance said the UK was "tracking behind Italy" on death rates. He said: "I think this week is difficult, I think this week we’re going to see a further increase.

"Thereafter we should see a plateau as the effects of the social distancing come through — that plateau may last for some time and then begin to decrease."

Pressed on how long the plateau would last, he said he expected it to be around two to three weeks.

Shadow social care minister Liz Kendall said: "Today’s press conference has exposed the growing crisis in our care homes because of coronavirus.

"Ministers must publish daily figures of deaths in care homes so we know the true scale of the problem and how fast it is spreading. They must also ensure social care has the resources it needs and that vital PPE [personal protective equipment] and testing get to care workers on the frontline."