THE number of Covid-19 deaths in Hampshire care homes has more than doubled in a week with more than 250 coronavirus-related deaths recorded in less than a month.

New figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have revealed that between April 17 and April 24 a total of 104 Covid-19 related deaths occurred in care homes across the county.

This is an increase from the 49 Covid-19 related deaths recorded between April 10 and April 17.

Overall the number of Covid-19 related deaths occurred in Hampshire care homes and  notified to the Care and Quality Commission (CQC) since April 10 has risen to 259.

Of those, 76 were notified between April 25 and May 1, with 10 deaths occurring in Southampton, seven in Portsmouth and 59 across Hampshire.

The numbers refer to both private and council-run care homes.

The data revealed that the area most hit is the New Forest with 23 Covid-19 deaths in care homes from the start of the year until April 24.

It is followed by Test Valley (17 deaths), Southampton and Portsmouth with 16 deaths each, Havant (15), Gosport (14) and Winchester (13).

Cllr Barry Rickman, leader of New Forest District Council, said his condolences go out to the families and friends affected.

"The numbers are probably down to the fact that we have a higher ratio of people in care homes in the New Forest", he added.

But he praised the work staff members are doing to support care home residents.

Hampshire County Council had previously said it is following the Public Health England guidance. 

Meanwhile, although the total number of Covid-19 deaths in care homes in Southampton is now 16, Southampton City Council said there has been only one coronavirus related death at the only council-run care home Holcroft House.

Cllr Lorna Fielker, cabinet member for Adult Care, said; “We are deeply saddened by the figures released by the ONS and CQC in relation to COVID-19 deaths in care homes, any death linked to this virus is simply one too many. We are doing all we can to protect the safety of residents and staff in our council-run care home and to support the private run care homes in Southampton to limit the spread of the virus. We alongside our partners are following government guidance in relation to COVID-19, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), residential home guidance and testing. We call on the government to do all that it can to ensure that it supports local authorities and organisations who are on the front line fighting this pandemic.”

Last week the government announced extra grants to help local authorities deal with the pandemic and said it is working with partners including PHE, the ONS and CQC to better understand the impact of this virus on people across the country.

Overall, deaths from all causes registered in England and Wales fell for the first time since March 20, the ONS figures also showed.

Hampshire County Council has been approached for comment.