Coronavirus is and will be a very serious issue for older people all over the UK.
We are going to give you the facts as they stand so that you can make your own informed decision.
Risk to older people
The biggest study by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control studied more than 44,000 cases. The death rates by age are shown below:
It is clear that older people and people with underlying health issues should be concerned and take more precautions than younger people.
As of today (11/3/2020) there are 456 cases in the UK. Every person who gets the virus passes it on to another 3.8 people on average. This figure of 3.8 is known as the reproduction rate.
This means that without a reduction in this rate the everyone in the UK will be infected as early as June 2020.
However, it is not all bad. With less travel, more washing of hands and quarantining people who have the virus this reproduction can be slowed down. China has demonstrated that this does work.
Fortunately, people in the UK are taking this seriously. Large gatherings are being cancelled and people are washing their hands. This will help to delay the spread of the virus to everyone in the UK.
If coronavirus does manage to get into a carehome it would be very dangerous indeed for residents. This may happen as they have many staff and visitors coming in and out. We would expect the virus to spread extremely fast throughout the home as residents are all in the same rooms on most days. We estimate it would take a couple of weeks for every resident in the average carehome to get the virus. As symptoms themselves are slow to appear it will be hard for the home to stop the spread.
If you are in a high risk category, we would recommend being more careful than the government advise the rest of the population. Make sure you keep informed and make sensible decisions.
If you are considering going into a carehome this year, think about staying at home until it is clearer that the virus is not going to reach UK wide levels. You could use technologies such as personal alarms to help you stay safe at home. Ultimately, if the virus does start to get into carehomes the data indicates that it will be very dangerous indeed for residents.
Due to the speed of spread it should not be too long before we know how bad it is going to be. Soon we may know whether the government has managed to contain the worst of it. For the latest government advice read the pages here.
In the meantime, keep washing your hands!