FOUR residents at a County Durham care home have died and several others have fallen ill after suffering with coronavirus symptoms.

Stanley Park Care Home in Stanley has said it has isolated those affected to protect staff and others living there.

One of the residents tested positive for coronavirus in hospital, the others died at the home with symptoms but without a test.

It understood a further resident is now is hospital and has tested positive and a number of others still in the home are unwell but have not been tested.

Care UK’s Regional Director Karen Morrison said: “I am very sad to report the deaths of four residents from our Stanley Park care home with symptoms that might suggest coronavirus. One died in hospital in late March, the others in the home more recently. Their families have been informed.

“I would like to send our thoughts and condolences to their friends and families.

“I would also like to pay tribute to the team members at this home who have worked so hard to care for these and other residents.

“Their determination and commitment to support every resident, and each other, through these very challenging times is incredible.

“They have displayed professionalism and compassion throughout and I am very proud of them and all my other colleagues in our homes across the North-East.

“The team at the home have all the necessary PPE.

“Any other residents showing symptoms of the virus are being isolated and nursed by a technique known as barrier nursing which enables us to deliver the care they need while helping protect colleagues and other residents from possible infection.

“We are continuing to work closely with colleagues in the NHS and are following their advice on how best to treat and protect residents showing any symptoms.”

It emerged today hospitals across the region have reported a further 41 coronavirus patient deaths bringing the total across the North-East and North Yorkshire  to 425 since the outbreak began.

The region also saw the largest day-on-day rise in confirmed Covid-19 cases, bringing the total number to 3,046.

Across the country care home service providers have pleaded with Health Secretary Matt Hancock to deliver more PPE and give priority testing to staff amid fears they have “fallen to the bottom of the pile”.

They have also demanded the impact of the virus on care homes is officially measured and published.

It comes following reports of dozens of deaths of residents at care homes across the UK, some of whom had tested positive for Covid-19.

Nadra Ahmed, chairman of the National Care Association, said: “It’s very, very frightening because we want to keep our staff safe.

“We have got staff, quite rightly, saying ‘we don’t want to do the job if we haven’t got the equipment’ because they’ve got their own family to think of."

The Department of Health said it has delivered 7.8 million PPE products to more than 26,000 care settings across the country and is rapidly working to extend testing to social care workers.

Ms Ahmed said: “I think everyone is doing everything they can, I’m not saying they’re not - we are talking to the Government all the time but I think the urgency of dealing with it in a care setting seems to have passed them by.

“They start to really think about the breaks that we need.”

She added the care industry has also been hit by staffing issues, with between 20-25 per cent of workers currently self-isolating or not able to work.

She said: “Staff are doing double shifts, they’re working their socks off to try and keep the people we are looking after safe, that’s our entire focus is to keep people safe in our services."

A spokesperson for Care England said: “It has become abundantly clear that care homes are right at the bottom of the priority list and thus we are wasting time having to fight for everything.

“Insufficient PPE and testing for staff, residents and patients discharged from hospital remain the key concerns of care providers.

“There is scant recognition of the increased operating costs in this time of crisis despite the president of Adass advocating the need for more financial support to the sector at his evidence to the Health and Social Care Select Committee last month.  If they are not supported unfortunately many providers will fold thus leaving our most vulnerable without care at this critical time.”