CORONAVIRUS-related deaths in Bolton care homes are above the national average.

New figures show that 30 per cent of all deaths linked to covid-19 in the borough took place in care homes.

Nationally, deaths in residential care only made up a quarter of the total coronavirus deaths.

Cllr Andy Morgan, the executive member for adult social care services, believes the figures stem from the town’s older population.

He said: “We did have a peak when we first started but a lot of that is down to the town’s demographic, with more people in care in the area.

“I don’t think we’re doing any worse than the rest of the country, obviously any deaths are a tragedy and we’re trying to avoid them where possible.

“We’ve now got the PPE stocked up, like everybody else we had problems at first but the council’s quality assurance team are really on the case, calling providers twice a week to check in and ensure they have everything they need.”

The latest figures, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), show that 66 deaths in the borough’s care homes had been linked to coronavirus up till May 1.

More than half of care home deaths in the last four weeks have been linked to coronavirus, with covid-19 contributing to at least 66 of the 118 deaths reported since April 10.

The ONS has warned that these figures may rise, as deaths are only included in this report if they occurred before May 1, and were registered before May 9.

So far, 192 people have died with the virus at Royal Bolton Hospital, with no new deaths announced for three days.

Seven people have died with the virus at the borough’s hospice, whilst five died at home, and two died “elsewhere”.

Cllr Morgan added: “It’s obviously been a learning curve over the last seven weeks, nobody anticipated it hitting the sector this hard.

“We had a lot of staff off work, but staffing levels are improving and we’re now able to keep the same people at the same homes rather than using agency staff

“The infection control support have been issuing guidance and cleaning protocols, and the staff are being very careful with what they’re doing when they’re not working.

“It’s really brought the sector into a positive light.”