CORONAVIRUS has been linked to the deaths of dozens of people in Swindon care homes since the start of the crisis, new figures reveal.

Office for National Statistics data shows 175 deaths involving Covid-19 were provisionally registered in Swindon up to October 17.

Of those, 81 occurred outside hospital – including 72 in care homes and eight at private homes. A further death occurred in a hospice, another community establishment or elsewhere.

Meanwhile, there was one more death in a private home over the period.

The Independent Care Group called for a short, sharp lockdown to curb the spread of infection in care homes nationally as fatalities in care homes across England and Wales rose for the fifth week in a row.

Chairman Mike Padgham said: “We are now starting to see more significant increases in the number of Covid-19 deaths in care and nursing homes and we have to act quickly.

“At the moment we have people travelling all over the place, from areas of high infection rate to low areas, so the virus is bound to spread and spread.

“It is regrettable, but I feel the only way is to lock down again and protect our oldest and most vulnerable in particular, until we can regain control.”

Across England and Wales, 53,789 deaths involving Covid-19 were provisionally registered up to October 17. Of those, 29 per cent were in care homes and just under two-thirds in hospital.

In the three months to October 17 in Swindon, deaths outside hospital increased by three to a total of 81 and hospital deaths increased by five to 94.

The NHS Confederation said it is too early to tell whether the government’s interventions are having an impact.

Director of policy Nick Ville said: “Some hospitals are already having to scale back the number of non-urgent procedures they are able to perform and plan for because of growing cases of the disease.”

In the week ending October 9, there were 63 care home deaths across the two countries which mentioned novel coronavirus on the death certificate. This was the fifth consecutive weekly increase and the largest number seen since July, although the ONS said this was still below pre-pandemic levels.

Deaths in all settings have steadily risen across England and Wales amid soaring positive case numbers – 438 Covid-related fatalities were registered in the seven days to October 9, the largest rise in a single week since early July.