THE number of people to die from suspected coronavirus in East Lancashire care homes has more than doubled in the past week, new figures show.

In its weekly report, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said 29 care home deaths in the east of the county involved the virus – up from 13 last Tuesday.

The numbers show how many people have died in care homes due to suspected coronavirus between 1 March and 24 April.

So far, four deaths in Blackburn with Darwen (BwD) homes have been reported, but the true number is expected to be far higher.

Sayyed Osman, director of adults and prevention at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “We are deeply saddened to hear of any deaths in care settings and our thoughts are with the families and friends.

“We continue to work closely with all of our care homes and care home providers during this unprecedented national crisis to do all we can to protect and safeguard vulnerable residents.

“This has included daily calls to monitor and review information, steps made to ensure PPE training is up-to-date, the organisation of the provision of extra support via district nurses and other direct support work to ensure staff are given the assistance they need to manage Covid-19 cases.

“We are also working with the Lancashire Resilience Forum and other councils to track information daily and consistently. We must again salute the staff who are facing these extremely difficult circumstances head on with unbelievable commitment and care."

In Burnley, seven coronavirus-related deaths have been registered in care homes - an increase of three from last week.

Hyndburn has seen four new deaths, bringing the total to six in the borough.

Care homes in Pendle have reported six deaths in total so far - an increase of two.

The figures show Rossendale has had two more deaths reported in the past week, bringing its total to four.

Ribble Valley is the least affected by the crisis, with two care home deaths and a much lower rate of death elsewhere compared to other boroughs.

Last week it was reported that 178 of Lancashire's 600 care homes have reported ill residents who either have or are suspected to have the virus.

In the rest of England, almost 5,600 deaths involving coronavirus in care homes were registered since 1 March.

The new ONS data puts the UK death toll at 29,710 - the highest in Europe and second highest in the world behind the United States.