THE number of Covid-19 deaths in Hampshire care homes continues to rise, new figures have revealed.

According to the latest data published by the  Office for National Statistics (ONS) a total of 122 coronavirus-related deaths occurred in care homes across the county between April 25 and May 1.

This is the highest number of deaths recorded in a week since the start of the year and an increase from the 104 recorded between April 17 and April 24.

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

County bosses said the increase in care home deaths is a huge cause for concern.

It comes as the latest data also revealed that the total number of Covid-19 deaths which occurred in Hampshire care homes and were reported to the Care and Quality Commission (CQC) since April 10 has risen to 318.

Of these, 59 were  notified between  May 2 and May 8,  with 4 deaths occurring in Southampton,  seven in Portsmouth and 48 across the rest of Hampshire.

The numbers are down from the week before when 76 deaths were reported to the CQC.

However, the figures referring to the week between April 25 and May 1 show a sharp increase in some areas of Hampshire such as Eastleigh where the number of Covid-19 deaths in care homes went from four (between April 17-24) to 17 (between April 25 and May 1).

During the same two weeks, numbers have also gone up in Fareham care homes from three to ten, in Winchester from seven to 13 and in Test Valley from 14 to 15. But they have declined slightly across the rest of the county.

The latest data also revealed that the New Forest remains the area hit the most with a total of 36 Covid-19 related deaths in its care homes.

Last week Cllr Barry Rickman, leader of New Forest Distric Council, said the high numbers are probably down to a higher ratio of people in care homes in the New Forest.

Following the latest data Councillor Liz Fairhurst, executive member for adult social care and health at the county council, said: “The rise in the number of deaths in care homes across Hampshire and in the rest of the country is a huge cause for concern for everyone involved.  We are going to enormous lengths to support our own homes, as well as the independent sector wherever we can, to prevent any further spread of the virus. This includes continuing to operate and advise on stringent hygiene and infection control processes, in line with the latest clinical guidance from Public Health England, and to provide staff with the required PPE. In addition, the only visitors permitted are those visiting relatives at ‘end of life’ – in accordance with national advice, and by arrangement with the registered manager.”