THE number of people dying from coronavirus in care homes in Wiltshire has risen to 144 according to national statistics released this week.

Wiltshire Council leader Philip Whitehead re-assured people that the situation in homes was now past its peak and all have sufficient protective equipment.

But he admitted they came perilously close to running out and at one stage they were just two days away from having none to deliver.

In the past week the number of deaths in the 173 care homes covered by Wiltshire Council went up by 23.

But at the height of the emergency in April, 24 people died in just two days.

Cllr Whitehead said: “The number of deaths seems high but to put it into perspective back in January at the height of the flu season ten people died in one care home in Wiltshire.

“The care homes are privately run but we have been supporting them throughout and making sure they have sufficient PPE.

“That has not been easy because at one stage the whole of China where most of the equipment was manufactured came from was closed.

“We had to look at as many different supply streams as we could. There was one stage when we were just two days from running out but fortunately supplies came through.

“We are getting through a huge amount but we now have very good supplies and everywhere has enough.”

The number of people dying in care homes in Wiltshire is likely to be higher than those from the area that die in hospital. Swindon has its own figures for care homes where 102 people have died.

In Great Western Hospital, Swindon, which takes patients from several counties 108 people have died, 51 have died in Salisbury, one in Warminster and one in Chippenham.

A further 59 have died at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, which once again has a large catchment area. Nationally around a quarter of Covid-19 deaths has come from care homes.

Cllr Laura Mayes, Wiltshire’s cabinet member for adult social care, said: “Alongside our health partners we are working closely with care homes and providing regular support during COVID-19, following government guidance at all times.

“We have set up a team dedicated to working with providers seven days a week. Providers also have access to a dedicated helpline.

“The CCG and Wiltshire Health & Care have also put in place a support offer to care homes and there is a named clinician and public health consultant for every care home.

“Where it is needed we are procuring PPE for care homes and we will continue to respond to any concerns.”

A council spokesman said: “Data we have so far shows there are no geographical clusters and we are working to assist care homes with infection control.”