Throughout Europe, hospital deaths are being recorded in the daily toll of Covid-19, however many deaths in care homes are going unrecorded, according to research by the BBC.

However, Italy, which has reported the most deaths from Covid-19 in Europe so far, has reported hundreds of deaths in residential homes in Bergamo in the north. It has also been reported that 83 elderly residents went without food at a home for two days in the south because staff had to go into quarantine.

Meanwhile in Spain, military units were dispatched to care homes around the country, offering emergency assistance and disinfecting more than 1,300 centres, however, in Madrid’s Monte Hermoso centre at least 20 people were already found to have died from Covid-19 last week.

Spanish soldiers also found elderly patients in retirement homes abandoned and, in some cases, dead in their beds. Spanish prosecutors said an investigation had been launched.

More cases of Covid-19 have been reported in care homes in the UK as the national death toll climbed to more than 1,800 yesterday.

The number of Covid-19 infections at HC-One’s Highgate care home in North Lanarkshire jumped from six to 11, while a positive case was confirmed at Oaklands Nursing Home in Hove where 13 people had been tested for the virus. Some staff at Oaklands, who have been frustrated by the lack of supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), were also reported to have gone home sick.

Meanwhile, care workers in the UK are at “breaking point” because of the lack of PPE available to them, according to Unison assistant general secretary, Christina McAnea, who made the comment in response to the news that some care home managers are still not providing basic equipment such as face masks and hand sanitiser to staff as they support the vulnerable and elderly during the crisis. In some cases, the union found care workers are being given just plastic aprons and gloves to protect against Covid-19 which has triggered widespread anxiety among staff that they may spread the virus among their own families and the people they care for.

McAnea has called for “a more coordinated approach” which is “needed desperately, with managers all following official guidance.”

She added: “Every care worker who needs masks and other safety gear must be supplied with it as a matter of urgency.”