CORONAVIRUS has been linked to the deaths of at least 189 people in the county's care homes since the start of the crisis – but figures suggest they have avoided further loss amid soaring positive case numbers.

A total of 189 coronavirus deaths have been registered in Worcestershire up to October 9, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

But no coronavirus deaths have been recorded in Worcester's care homes since July 18.

The latest figures shows Bromsgrove has seen the most care home deaths where 54 have been registered, followed by 49 in Wychavon and 39 in Wyre Forest.

A total of 27 coronavirus deaths have been registered in Worcester's care homes whilst 20 have occurred in Malvern Hills. Eight deaths have been recorded in Redditch's care homes.

Worcestershire County Council announced last week (October 19) that "limited" visits to care homes would be allowed again if strict safety measures were put in place to protect residents.

The decision came just over a month after all visits to care homes were stopped by the council.

All visits to care homes in Bromsgrove were suspended on September 8 before the council halted them in Wychavon and Malvern Hills a few days later. Visits to all of the county's care homes were then stopped a week later by the council.

Dr. Kathryn Cobain, director for Public Health in Worcestershire, warned the over 60s in Bromsgrove on Friday (October 23) to remain cautious due to the rising number of cases.

“We have seen the virus spread through our younger people and now it is infecting our older communities,” she said.

“This is certainly happening in Bromsgrove and it is very worrying. We know that the over 60’s can be badly affected by the virus, it can make you very poorly, need hospital care and even cause death.

"This of course, leads to pressure on our NHS and creates a rising demand for intensive care beds. We need to act now, to prevent this situation becoming any worse.

"We need your help, to keep you and everyone safe."

Dr Cobain reminded people to continue obeying the rule of six, stay the correct distance away from each other, wash hands regularly and continue to wear face coverings where needed.

"These measures are our best defence against the virus,” she added. “We know it can be hard, keeping a distance from others, avoiding travelling to places, not meeting up with big groups.

"But the virus spreads when we mix and have contact and don’t stay apart. Stay local, don’t visit areas with higher levels of restrictions.

“In Bromsgrove, we are close to areas with higher infection rates and these areas are on a higher level of alert.

"Please ensure you self-isolate as soon as you have a symptom of Covid-19.”

The Independent Care Group has called for a "short, sharp lockdown" to curb the spread of infection in care homes nationally, as fatalities in care homes across England and Wales rose for the fifth week in a row.

Mike Padgham, chairman of the Independent Care Group, said: "We are now starting to see more significant increases in the number of Covid-19 deaths in care and nursing homes and we have to act quickly. At the moment we have people travelling all over the place, from areas of high infection rate to low areas, so the virus is bound to spread and spread.

"It is regrettable, but I feel the only way is to lock down again and protect our oldest and most vulnerable in particular, until we can regain control."