COUNCIL bosses have confirmed that nearly 40 per cent of Dudley's care homes have been hit by coronavirus since the outbreak began.

Latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show there have been 56 deaths linked to COVID-19 in care facilities in the borough over the last few weeks and council chiefs have confirmed that 38 of Dudley's 95 homes have reported one or more cases of coronavirus since the virus hit Britain.

The figures, published on June 2, include deaths that occurred up until May 22 or were registered up until May 30.

Dudley Council has declined to reveal which care homes have had cases of coronavirus and at which homes the deaths occurred.

Councillor Nicolas Barlow, Dudley's cabinet member for health and adult social care, said of the situation: “We are now starting to see the number of new confirmed cases or symptomatic residents declining. Also the number of care homes in Dudley with a COVID-19 outbreak has fallen by two thirds from its peak of 18 on May 7 to six on June 2.”

He added: "As a council we continue to work with all homes very closely, providing clinical support for residents, the latest advice on infection controls procedures to reduce the risk to other residents and a supply of personal protective equipment.

“Working with health partners we are committed to identifying cases rapidly to reduce the spread of the infection in the borough’s homes and carry out proactive swab testing in care homes. We’ve tested everyone over the age of 65."

New Bradley Hall in Kingswinford which reported two cases of coronavirus in April has confirmed it is currently clear of the virus and all staff and residents have tested negative.

The ONS stats, which are published weekly, show there have 276 deaths linked to COVID-19 in the Dudley borough since the outbreak began - 205 of which occurred in hospital. The figures also show how many people have died from coronavirus at home. In Dudley 11 people have died from the virus in their own home but this figure has not risen since the previous week's stats were released.

The same number of people have died at home in neighbouring Sandwell and again that figure has not risen.

A total of 39 residents have died from coronavirus in care homes in Sandwell, the figures show, and 268 hospital deaths linked to COVID-19 have been recorded in Sandwell.

The hospital death figures published by the ONS differ slightly from those confirmed daily by NHS England as the ONS figures only include those officially registered. NHS England's latest figures, published today, show 599 people who tested positive for COVID-19 have died in hospital in Dudley and Sandwell - 252 in Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley and 347 in hospitals run by Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust.

And according to Public Health England 880 people in Dudley and 1,037 in Sandwell have tested positive for coronavirus.

The test figures are lower than we previously reported due to a error on the part of Public Health England in recording the number of confirmed cases.

Dr Sue Ibbotson, director of PHE West Midlands confirmed: “PHE identified a coding error in recording COVID-19 test results from one NHS Trust in the West Midlands. No patient received an incorrect result. We have now corrected the error and adjusted our data sets accordingly.”