A retired couple were reunited with an emotional hug and kiss in a care home after rapid coronavirus tests enabled visits to take place.

Residents of Britain's care homes today shared their first precious embraces with loved ones since March.

Care homes are now able to give visitors rapid tests for Covid-19 which give results in 30 minutes.

Bob Underhill, an 84-year-old retiree, was reunited with his wife Patricia, 82, who has Alzheimer's.

Both were overcome as they met, then hugged and kissed through their face masks.

"I've only seen her twice since March because they had a shutdown here, and we just had to sit and wait," Bob said.

Bob Underhill, 84, and his wife Patricia, 82, share a kiss through their face masks

"I did come and see her last Friday through the partitions, which is not very pleasant; it is not the same being three metres apart."

Patricia moved into a home in London in March after breaking her hip, meaning Bob could no longer care for her.

Serena Snelling also took a test before seeing her mother Theresa, who has been in a home since late February.

Patricia moved into a home in London in March

"It's been really challenging not being able to see her. I was her primary carer... so we were very close," said Snelling.

They embraced and held each other tightly for a long time.

"It feels great," said Theresa.

"We love each other very much. It feels really good and it feels like a long time coming," said Serena.

Bob finally got to see his wife

Covid-19 spread rapidly through homes at the start of the pandemic, as institutions found themselves without adequate protective gear, and agency staff working in multiple homes and visitors unwittingly spread the virus.

This led to homes coming under strict lockdown and limiting visits to protect frail and elderly residents.

Bob and Patricia at the Chiswick Nursing Centre

Some 17,319 people have died of Covid-19 in care homes in Britain up to the week ending November 20, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), although that figure doesn't account for residents who were moved to hospitals before dying.

Care home residents and staff will be among the first in line for a vaccination after the UK became the first country in the world to approve Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine.