Around a sixth of Tayside care homes are closed to new admissions as hard-pressed staff continue to battle the pandemic.
A total of 18 of the 110 care homes in the area are shut due to confirmed or suspected Covid-19 outbreaks and are receiving daily support from NHS Tayside’s Health Protection Team.
An NHS Tayside spokeswoman confirmed the figures after the health board held its monthly meeting online on Thursday morning.
The Scottish Government gave clinical and care professionals at NHS boards and councils a lead role in overseeing care homes on May 17 amid huge concern about the rising death toll.
More than half of all deaths in some parts of Tayside have been in care home settings, with several homes recording multiple deaths in a fortnight, including the loss of care home staff who had contracted the virus.
NHS Tayside staff have judged homes on a red, amber and green scale, marking three red, 28 amber and 79 green.
Health workers will visit the homes most seriously affected by the virus and call others to ensure staff “have access to education training and skills in order to manage any care home outbreaks or individuals with symptoms consistent with Covid-19.”
The health board has offered volunteer nurses from its banks to those private sector care companies that have been unable to tackle their own staffing shortages, the meeting heard.
Infection rates among care home staff were falling and personal protective equipment shortages, which were at their most acute three weeks ago, had now “stabilised,” the board was told.
Lorna Birse-Stewart, acting chairwoman, said she had discussed care homes with Health Secretary Jeane Freeman.
Mrs Birse-Stewart said: “We had the opportunity to have some discussion on care homes and the access required from boards.
“NHS chairs were asked to take a role in ensuring that the work of directors of public health were moving forward with regard to the oversight of care homes.
“As an organisation, we have had significant work going on across the piece.”
Vicky Irons, chief officer of the Dundee Integration Joint Board, submitted an update showing infection rates in homes were falling.
It said: “Recent trends indicate that the numbers of symptomatic staff across the Health and Social Care Partnership, care providers and residents in care homes being tested at the local Dundee test centre are starting to decrease.
“There has been a shift in the number of people who have tested positive at the local test centre from a peak of 28% of those tested to 15% testing positive as of last week.”
Gordon Paterson, chief officer of the Perth and Kinross IJB, said the offer of volunteer NHS nurses to stem staff shortages was a “break glass measure” only to be put in place if companies own contingency plans had broken down.
Care providers should “seek to consume their own smoke,” he said.
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