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Hard-hit European countries berated over care home deaths

A healthcare worker speaks on the phone next to a sign reading "Attention, COVID Zone" attached to a big tent housing a field hospital outside the Gregorio Maranon Hospital in Madrid on April 8, 2020.

Saeed Pourreza
Press TV, London

Thousands of people have reportedly died in care homes across Britain, France, Italy and Spain, the worst hit countries in Europe, from COVID-19. Critics say that is a clear sign of the scale of fatalities outside health care services, many of which have not been officially announced.

As of Thursday, the UK government reported more than 13,000 coronavirus-related deaths across the Kingdom after extending a lockdown that’s already been in place for more than three weeks. But the daily updated mortality figure, only includes people who’ve died of COVID-19 in hospitals.

Across the channel in France, with over 100,000 confirmed cases and north of 17,000 deaths, nursing homes in the most-affected regions say real mortality rates are much higher. That plus another nagging problem: shortages of masks and materials.

Over in Italy, another hard-hit nation where the number of new Civod-19 deaths and cases have started dropping, authorities are investigating the country's largest nursing home located in Milan, where 70 residents died last month, amid allegations that management misattributed the cause of death: an indication that other homes might have done the same thing.

In Spain, the second worst affected country in Europe after Italy, care homes have seen appalling outbreaks. Last month the military was called in to help at retirement homes and found elderly patients abandoned and, in some cases, dead in their beds. An estimated three thousand senior citizens are said to have died in March alone. 

Critics are fuming over what they call the callous neglect of people in care homes, demanding a change in the way communal care-giving is organized. Governments, they say, may be able to hide the deaths, but they cannot hide the coffins. 

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