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Care home staff 'not yet tested' for Coronavirus.

Care homes looking after thousands of vulnerable residents said none of their staff had been tested for coronavirus in spite of rising fatalities as the pandemic spread.

Out of 210 care providers with nearly 18,000 staff and almost 13,000 residents, 159 homes said none of their workers had been given a test.

Although the government has said all symptomatic staff, residents and their families would be tested, some care home staff face long journeys, sometimes of several hours, to testing centres.

The Government announced that the military would start testing essential workers in mobile units operating at sites in hard-to-reach areas, including care homes. Eight mobile units were opened at Salisbury, Southport and Teesside, with plans to extend the scheme to at least 96 units.

However, many care homes still said they had seen no testing at all, while others said it remained hard to access official test centres after reporting online that they had symptoms.

Manager of Harbour House Care Home, Bridport, Anna Knight, said getting enough personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing for coronavirus were her biggest challenges.

She said: "Our PPE supplies are running low, I have got anxious staff and am relying on public donations."

The home has 35 residents, aged 83 and above. One is being isolated but the home had been told it would need at least two suspected cases for any tests to be carried out.

The home's nearest official test centre is at Plymouth, a three-hour return trip for staff.

A total of 23 care homes in Yorkshire, Oxfordshire, Bristol and Teesside said far away drive-through test centres were a problem, leaving staff without cars unable to access them.

In the BBC survey, 127 out of 205 homes said none of their residents had been tested for the virus. Where tests had been carried out, only 334 of 7,391 residents had been tested.

There were 975 deaths in care homes in England of people with Covid-19 up to 10 April, according to the ONS, although numbers have continued to rise rapidly since then.

Separate research by the National Care Forum found care workers were travelling an average 62-mile round trip to test centres.

Executive director, Vic Rayner, said: "A large proportion of care staff rely on public transport to get about. More needs to be done to enable care workers to access testing centres so that they can have the confidence they need in supporting the most vulnerable in our country."

Harrogate Neighbours in North Yorkshire runs a residential home as well as care services.

Chief executive, Sue Cawthray, said they had had to "stand their ground" with the NHS and refuse to take residents back from hospital without a test proving they did not have coronavirus.

She said: "Up until about a week ago, they were not automatically testing anyone who had been in hospital before they came back into care.

"But they've now started to do so and I think primarily  because they realised people were picking up the virus in hospital and then taking it into the care homes."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: "Social care is on the frontline of our fight against coronavirus and the safety of staff and residents is our top priority.

"All care home residents discharged from hospital will be tested before being admitted into their care home and we are using our increased capacity to test all symptomatic care home residents, staff, and their families."