Care homes in Hertfordshire are to receive £13 million of government funding to control the spread of infection, as the Covid-19 pandemic continues.

Throughout the pandemic there have been increasing concerns about the number of care home residents – and staff – who have contracted the virus.

And the latest figures – reported to a meeting of the county council’s cabinet on Monday (May 18) show that in Hertfordshire there have been 206 Covid-19 deaths in care homes.

That’s more than one in four of every Covid-19 death in the county. And it doesn’t include the care home residents who died in a hospital setting.

The new funding – part of a £600m national package, announced by the government last week – will be distributed by the county council to individual care homes.

And each home will receive the equivalent of £1,000 per bed – to be paid in two instalments.

At the meeting of the cabinet the funding was welcomed by the council’s executive member for adult care and health Cllr Richard Roberts.

Cllr Roberts said an initial payment – equivalent to £500 per bed space – would be passed-on to individual care homes by the council immediately.

And a further £500 would be passed on after the first clean of the care home – to show that some infection control has taken place.

He said: “I think this is a very positive input of cash into the care system –  and specifically around cleanliness and helping care homes to help their residents to stay safe.”

At the meeting of the cabinet Cllr Roberts also expressed his deepest sympathy for those who had lost loved ones during the pandemic – particularly the large numbers of frail elderly, some in care homes some in the community.

He said the number of deaths in care homes in the county appeared to have “dropped right down” in the past week or so – after appearing to peak two or three weeks ago.

But he stressed that there was still a need to be vigilant across all care home providers.

Meanwhile executive member for public health and prevention Cllr Tim Hutchings also updated councillors on the number of recorded Covid-19 cases in the county.

He said that between the begonning of the outbeak and May 17, there had been 2711 people hospitalised in the county because of Covid-19.

But whereas at the peak, he said, hospitals were admitting Covid-19 patients at a rate of 100 a day, on May 17 he said that figure had decreased to 18.

He said the latest figures recorded on May 15 recorded that there have been 784 deaths in the county – 206 of which had been in the county’s care homes.

He also praised the role of the military at the Covid-19 testing centres in the county, where he said there had now been 5300 swab tests completed.