No care home deaths in South Korea? Doesn’t that teach us to dig a bit deeper?

Helen McArdle, real journalist, driven by a desire to inform the public and by a corporate pay package, thinks no care homes in these East Asian countries can teach us, well really Nicola, how to do things properly.

Aren’t journalists expected to be skeptical especially about such claims? A mere sociologist, I thought, instantly, let’s see if that’s true once we have a wee dig around.

I feel sure the facts will not be easily found, so this will be only a starter. I feel equally sure that some friends of this blog will be on this like a pack of demented truffle hounds.

I shouldn’t be the only one surprised by claims. In March, Park Chan-kyong of This Week in Asia wrote:

New clusters of infection have emerged in South Korean nursing homes, complicating the country’s fight against the Covid-19 outbreak, as experts warn that hundreds of substandard long-term care facilities could serve as hotbeds for the contagious coronavirus. More than 200 cases have been reported in these senior-care facilities, mirroring outbreaks reported in Italy and parts of the United States, such as the states of Washington and Florida. “We’ve been warning all the time about nursing homes and other mass-residential facilities,” Kim Dong-hyun, the president of the Korean Society of Epidemiology told This Week in Asia. “This is a worrisome situation that complicates the country’s campaign against the virus.”

In can find no sign of Park Chan-kyong returning to his theme but 200 cases among the elderly and no deaths. Were they moved out quickly and counted elsewhere?

In Hong Kong, there were similar concerns about the lack of quality care homes:

So how on earth did they manage no care home deaths? There are clues in the presentation by Professor Terry Lum of Hong Kong University to a UK Parliament select committee, two days ago, of how they did it there.

Much revolves around dedicated quarantine centres and practices that may chill your blood a bit if your remember we’re talking about elderly, vulnerable people often with multiple conditions including dementia. Confirmed cases were put in these centres for up to three months and all their close contacts for 14 days. As Lum puts it, they were ‘highly vigilant.’

Here’s a thought, were the proven and suspected case moved so quickly out of care homes that their deaths would then be counted as in the centres and not in the care homes?

Here’s another thought, what trauma was inflicted upon those quarantined and on their families and what collateral damage was done to their mental health?

2 thoughts on “No care home deaths in South Korea? Doesn’t that teach us to dig a bit deeper?”

  1. There is now a substantial international evidence base emerging on Covid-19 deaths associated specifically with care homes. Why are researchers focusing on this – because of Scotland’s unique situation in the western world? Of course not: it’s because of an internationally widespread, common experience and concern.

    The report at the link below provides a useful collation of international evidence on Covid-19 related deaths in residential care institutions. It is published by the International Long-Term Care Policy Network hosted by the London School of Economics. (The report was updated last on 3 May, 2020.)

    Click to access Mortality-associated-with-COVID-3-May-final-2.pdf

    It presents data from numerous countries on Covid-19 related deaths in care homes as a percentage of all Covid-19 related deaths in the population. It is important to acknowledge references to the difficulty still of making exact country to country comparisons because of definitional and data collection variations. However, the report does provide useful CONTEXT (the watchword for the TuSC?) in the increasing heat of a recriminatory discourse in Scotland.

    In an overview of their international analysis, the authors note: “Official data from 13 countries suggests that the share of care home residents whose deaths are linked to COVID-19 tends to be lower in countries where there have been fewer deaths in total.”

    And in summary, they report that amongst Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel and Norway, the % of COVID-related deaths associated with care home ranges from 19% in Hungary to 62% in Canada. (The Hungary figure is influenced by the relatively low percentage of the elderly population who live in care homes.) For interest, the report indicates that between 51% and 60% of Covid-19 deaths in Ireland were in care homes, depending on the institutional definition.

    The report also notes large numbers of deaths in care homes in Italy, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States but adds “official data for these countries is either incomplete or difficult to interpret”.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. New Zealand is being widely praised for its response to Coronavirus. This includes its approach to border controls and to testing. The latter included stipulating that all admissions to care homes had to be tested for the virus and even those with a negative test were isolated for 14 days after entry.

    What follows is given for further ‘context’.

    As of 21 May, 2020 – and even with this strict regime for care homes in place and even after the country’s period of successful country-wide lockdown – the NZ Ministry fo Health is still reporting ‘significant clusters’ of infection in care homes.

    Of the 18 Covid-19 ‘clusters’ currently under investigation across the country seven of the clusters are in an ‘aged residential care facility’. The number of confirmed cases in these homes includes two with 50 or more cases.

    For background, in New Zealand a ‘significant COVID-19 cluster’ is when there are ten or more cases connected through transmission and who are not all part of the same household. The cluster includes both confirmed and probable cases.

    These clusters in the care homes are still termed ‘open’: a cluster is considered ‘closed’ when there have been no new cases for two incubation periods (i.e. 28 days) from the date when all cases complete isolation.


    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.