Care home providers across England have been urged to take “necessary action to prevent and limit outbreaks” of COVID-19 as the winter months approach.

The warning has been made in a letter from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) as coronavirus cases have started to rise again.

Across the country, restrictions have now been put in place to further prevent the spread of the virus among the general public, with only six people being allowed to meet up inside or outside for the foreseeable future.

But Stuart Miller, the director of adult social care delivery, has turned his attention to care home providers.

In his letter, published Friday, he, said: “You will know already that we are experiencing a rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases across the UK population.

“I need to alert you to the first signs this rise is being reflected in care homes too.

“I am writing at the earliest opportunity, so we can work in partnership to prevent further spread of the disease. The rapid flow of data and information, to and from care providers, is vital to this effort.”

COVID-19 outbreaks have been detected in 43 care homes and have been reported to health secretary Matt Hancock, according to the Sunday Times.

Meanwhile a DHSC report marked “official sensitive” said the rate of coronavirus recorded in care homes via “satellite test centres” had risen by a factor of four since the start of September.

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, Nadra Ahmed, the executive chairman of the National Care Association, which represents independent care homes, said: “Providers are living under a cloud of fear.

“In July, we were promised weekly testing, then we were told testing would all be available by 7 September, but people are still waiting for test results and they are still not coming back on time.

“We had one member who tested staff last Friday. The results came back this Friday and two staff were positive. In that period they were working, which means they could have spread the virus to the residents.”

Vic Rayner, the executive director of the National Care Forum, which represents charitable care providers, added: “Care homes are operating at exceptionally high states of vigilance around infection prevention and control, but the government must fulfil their part of bargain so homes can act promptly and effectively on the results.”

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