Coronavirus has been linked to the deaths of at least 65 people in Reading care homes since the start of the crisis, new figures reveal.

The Independent Care Group 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.

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Office for National Statistics data shows that 170 deaths involving Covid-19 were provisionally registered in Reading up to October 17.

Of those, 81 occurred outside hospital – including 65 in care homes and nine at private homes. A further seven deaths occurred in hospices, other community establishments or elsewhere.

It means there was one care home death recorded since July 18.

Across England and Wales, 53,789 deaths involving Covid-19 were provisionally registered up to October 17. Of those, 29% (15,747) were in care homes and just under two-thirds in hospital.

In the week ending October 9, there were 63 care home deaths across the two countries which mentioned "novel coronavirus" on the death certificate. That was the fifth consecutive weekly increase and the largest number seen since July, although the ONS said this was still below pre-pandemic levels.

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."

Deaths in all settings have steadily risen across England and Wales amid soaring positive case numbers – 438 Covid-related fatalities were registered in the seven days to October 9, the largest rise in a single week since early July.

Sarah Scobie, deputy director of research at the Nuffield Trust health think tank, said it is not a surprising to see the number of deaths attributed to Covid-19 creep upwards, as more areas of the country face stricter curbs on socialising.

Meanwhile, the NHS Confederation said it is too early to tell whether the Government’s interventions are having an impact.

Nick Ville, director of policy, said: “Some hospitals are already having to scale back the number of non-urgent procedures they are able to perform and plan for because of growing cases of the disease."

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In the three months to October 17 in Reading:

Deaths outside hospital increased by one, climbing to a total of 81

Hospital deaths increased by four to 89

The overall death toll climbed by five