A “SIGNIFICANT outbreak” has seen a total of 36 covid cases in one Stockton care home. 

A presentation to councillors on Tuesday revealed the stark scale of covid’s reach in the borough – with 49 cases spread between 34 care staff and 15 residents at 21 care homes.

And a document seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service also showed a “significant outbreak” had seen 36 cases recorded in one home. 

The first wave of the virus saw a high proportion of deaths from the illness coming from care homes – with 72 out of Stockton’s 161 covid-related fatalities in homes up to October 2. 

Discharges from hospital were also a concern at the time – with testing not required before sending vulnerable residents back to homes before April 15. 

Council leader Cllr Bob Cook said the authority was working hard with care homes to prevent a repeat of problems from earlier in the pandemic.  

“Regular covid-19 testing takes place at all care homes for both residents and staff,” he added.

“We’re in regular contact with all care homes and work closely with them – as do the local and regional public health teams.

“There are strong support and outbreak control plans in place as well as a working group meeting weekly to ensure we’re giving them all the help we can.

“Unfortunately, there has been a significant outbreak of cases at one care home – but this is being very carefully managed through controlled procedures and monitored extremely closely.”

It is understood the figures presented to councillors were mostly from the past two weeks.

Testing in care homes is done weekly for care home staff and monthly for residents – with national guidance stating staff should only work at one care home.

Cllr Cook said work was being done to prevent staff spreading the virus by keeping them in one facility. 

He added: “We’ve been trying to eliminate it – the trouble is they’re private so you can only advise really. 

“We’ve been working with them and since the pandemic started our public health staff have been ringing them twice a week to make sure everything is OK.”

The latest NHS data from October 5 and October 11 shows Stockton has a rolling weekly rate of 309.1 cases per 100,000 people.

The council aims to use its existing site at the Rosedale Centre, in Bishopsgarth, as a “step down” facility for care home residents discharged from hospital with covid. 

Officials say they will be cared for within a unit at the site for the remainder of their required isolation period. 

While care home staff are tested weekly, last month’s Stockton health and wellbeing board heard there had been some problems with the time it was taking for tests coming back.

Cllr Jim Beall, cabinet member for culture, leisure and health, said: “The guidance says all care home staff should get tested weekly and residents every 28 days – but the turnaround of the tests is not always as timely as it should be.

“Anecdotally, there have been reported cases where they haven’t had the result of the previous week’s test when they’re due the next one.”

On Wednesday, Cllr Beall said testing turnaround delays were not as bad as they were a few weeks ago – but he stressed it was something he was keeping a close eye on. 

Meanwhile, Stockton Council has asked for an extra £7.7m from the Government to cope with increased demands from its rising covid rate. 

Officials say some of this money would go towards “supporting contingency arrangements” for care homes facing staffing pressures due to numbers self-isolating, as well as providing a “more effective, locally-led tracing service”. 

The public health presentation also showed there had been 10 outbreaks at workplaces in the borough with 49 cases as of Monday (October 12).

There have also been outbreaks in a GP surgery and in one of the borough’s two prisons.