IT is feared up to 1,000 people in the UK may have died from coronavirus in care homes.
Deaths in care homes from Covid-19 are not even included in the official statistics, which are based on hospital admissions only.
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A total of 7,978 people have now died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus, up by 881 on Wednesday.
More than 120 residents of Britain's largest charitable provider of care homes are believed to have died from Covid-19 in the last three weeks, while another network of care homes is reported to have recorded 88 deaths.
Care England, the industry body, estimated the death toll is likely to be close to 1,000, the Guardian reported.
The Office for National Statistics said this week that 20 people died in care homes across the whole of England and Wales in the week to March 27.
A lack of testing means experts don't know how many residents and workers have been infected with the deadly virus.
Professor Martin Green, the chief executive of Care UK, which represents the largest care providers, said: "We are seeing under reporting of the number of deaths. Deaths might not be in the thousands yet, but it is coming up to that level."
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On Wednesday Public Health England said 15 residents at a care home in Luton had died, five of whom had tested positive for the deadly virus.
The deaths at the 69-bed Castletroy Residential Home in Luton were described as "heartbreaking" by the leader of Luton Council.
In a statement, council leader Hazel Simmons said: "To lose so many residents in one care home is heartbreaking and our love, thoughts and prayers are with the friends and families of those who have died, as well as the staff at the home."
It was also confirmed seven residents had died at Hawthorn Green home, in Stepney, East London. Another 21 residents were said to be unwell with possible symptoms.
On Monday it was confirmed eight residents at Castle View care home in Dumbarton had died after showing symptoms of coronavirus.
And 13 residents at Burlington Court care home, in Glasgow, died in one week following a suspected outbreak of coronavirus.
Nine residents at Oak Springs care home, in Liverpool, have died in the past week with management reporting large numbers of staff off with the virus.
Care industry leaders and the Alzheimer's Society fear the virus is now active in around half of care settings, which look after about 400,000 people in the UK.
The Alzheimer's Society said it fears hundreds of thousands of people with dementia "are being abandoned in care homes".
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The rise in Covid-19 cases in care homes across the UK has seen staff demand more person protective equipment.
Homes have been begging for equipment off beauty salons.
Two homes in North Wales said workers were so low on protective clothing they were preparing to wear bin liners from next week.
Last Wednesday Carol Jamabo, 56, a community carer for Cherish Elderly Care, in Bury, in Greater Manchester,
Carol served the public as a key worker for over 25 years, after moving to the UK from Nigeria in the 1990s.
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