THIRTEEN people have died of coronavirus in care homes in Winchester, new figures have revealed.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recorded the number up to April 24, with 43 deaths registered in the district due to Covid-19.

Of those the ONS said that 29 occurred in hospital and one at home.

It comes as care homes in the Winchester district have told the Chronicle that they have experienced outbreaks of the virus, while some struggling to provide PPE due to increasing costs.

One of those is Cornerstone Kitnocks House which reported to the Chronicle that since closing its doors on March 16 to members of the public it has had 12 suspected cases of Covid in the home and one confirmed Covid death.

The home has faced staggering costs for PPE throughout the pandemic.

“We understand that the NHS must take priority with regards to having the PPE required therefore again, taking control of the situation we started to acquire, import and purchase our own PPE to ensure that our residents and staff are protected at all times. For the month of March alone, PPE costs increased by 883 per cent on previous months, this is mainly due to the increase in the cost of PPE due to demand and not the increase in volume,” a spokesperson said.

“As a precaution anyone showing symptoms of COVID is barrier nursed in their room. If any further residents display symptoms on the same wing, the wing is locked down.

Fortunately we have low levels of staff absence in comparison to the national average and we continue to recruit to a variety of different roles throughout the home.”

At least two cases have been reported at St Johns Moorside Nursing Home, with the home saying it is the “greatest challenge” it has faced, adding: “as always we are determined to do all we can to maintain the health and wellbeing of all our residents living in Moorside”.

A spokesperson continued: “The situation in all homes is changing daily so we will not be providing further updates on Covid in the home, save through direct communication with families of residents or unless there is a major outbreak.

We have informed relatives and the relevant public bodies regarding our current status. The news on testing is brighter and will make it easier for care home staff in the area to get tested and return to work if virus free. We are encouraging staff to get tested for the virus and are supporting them in any way we can.

“The PPE situation is enormously challenging. Public Health England guidance has been clarified but supplies from the Local Resilience Forums are not yet sufficient to meet demand, comply with Public Health England requirements, and keep our residents and staff safe. This needs to be actioned. We are filling the gap from other suppliers but this is enormously challenging and expensive. Also local schools such as Henry Beaufort and Peter Symonds are doing their bit and making visors, which is wonderful. Winchester Rotary is helping to fund this. In addition, we are starting to make our own gowns.”

Bereweeke Court Care Home said that “some residents” have died of “suspected coronavirus”, when asked the care home did not respond with an exact number or how it was reporting its suspected deaths.

A home spokesperson said: “Our thoughts and sympathies are with all families who have lost a loved one from coronavirus and we are doing our utmost to support them during this difficult time.

“Caring for our residents and supporting our colleagues is at the heart of what we do, and we are doing everything we can to make sure our residents and colleagues stay safe and well throughout these challenging times.”

“We have a comprehensive coronavirus contingency plan in place, which was created by our clinical director and reflects the latest government guidance. we are working closely with our local health and care partners, and we are continuing to take action to secure the medical equipment, PPE, and supplies we need to protect Residents and Colleagues alike.

“We are proud of our Colleagues and how they have risen to the challenge of the coronavirus outbreak by showing huge dedication and commitment to our Residents. We are providing round-the-clock support for all our teams, and we are also grateful to Relatives for their ongoing support and understanding.”

Westholme Care Home, run by Hampshire County Council, told the Chronicle that the figures for those who died in March were “broadly in line” with monthly figures in a normal year, but the number of deaths in April “will be substantially higher”, however the council refused to provide exact numbers.

A council spokesperson said: “This is an extremely challenging time for all those working in care and we are doing our utmost to support staff and residents at our Westholme care home, as well as our other homes across the county.Testing for care home residents has not been routinely available to date. This means that while a number of our homes’ residents, some of whom have recovered, some of whom have sadly passed away, have displayed Covid-19 symptoms, we are not able to confirm that they have actually had the virus. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to speculate on how many have contracted coronavirus, and died as a consequence of the infection.

“Everything is being done to minimise the spread of the virus in all our settings. We continue to operate stringent hygiene and infection control processes, both at Westholme and at our other sites, in line with the latest clinical guidance from Public Health England, and to provide staff with the required PPE. In addition the only visitors permitted are those visiting relatives at ‘end of life’.

“We are immensely proud of our staff at Westholme, and the job they are doing, and we thank the public for their continued and unstinting support.”

It is not known how the home is reporting deaths to Care Quality Commission without confirming whether residents have died of Covid-19.

Meanwhile, Tegfield House has reported a further case of coronavirus, bringing its recorded cases to two.

Brendoncare, which runs Old Parsonage Court - a close care development - and Park Road care home said that it was providing contact and support for all residents throughout the crisis, with no reported cases of coronavirus.

Zoe McCallum, chief operating officer, said, “We currently do not have any suspected cases within our home. We are taking every precaution to care for and protect individuals. Behind every one of our residents are loving, caring friends and family who we are working harder than ever to keep in touch with video, calls and letters.

“We currently have stocks of personal protective equipment, however, it is challenging getting hold of supplies and we are spending valuable time sourcing further equipment. If there are any local companies that have spare equipment, we would be most grateful for your support.”

The Chronicle contacted 18 care homes, of those 11 did not respond, those were: St Cross Grange; Flowerdown Care Home; Sunrise of Winchester; Abbotts Barton Care Home; Sutton Manor; St Catherine’s View; The Dower House; Westacre; Otterbourne Hill Care Home; Old Alresford Cottage; and Ridgemead Bishop’s Waltham.