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French care home where staff locked themselves in with patients for 47 days avoids coronavirus

Yahoo! News UK logo Yahoo! News UK 04/05/2020 Victoria Bell
a couple of people that are talking to each other: Nurses hug as they leave the Vilanova nursing home in Corbas, near Lyon, central France, Monday, May 4, 2020. For 47 days and nights, staff and the 106 residents of the Vilanova nursing home waited out the coronavirus storm together, while the illness killed tens of thousands of people in other homes across Europe, including more than 9,000 in France. Because staff and residents were locked in together, Vilanova didn't have to confine people to their rooms like other homes to shield them from the risk of infection brought in from outside. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani) Nurses hug as they leave the Vilanova nursing home in Corbas, near Lyon, central France, Monday, May 4, 2020. For 47 days and nights, staff and the 106 residents of the Vilanova nursing home waited out the coronavirus storm together, while the illness killed tens of thousands of people in other homes across Europe, including more than 9,000 in France. Because staff and residents were locked in together, Vilanova didn't have to confine people to their rooms like other homes to shield them from the risk of infection brought in from outside. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

Staff working in a care home in France have kept their residents safe by locking down with them for 47 days and nights to wait out the coronavirus storm.

As coronavirus cut a deadly path through care homes across countries in Europe, Valerie Martin, who runs Vilanova care home on the outskirts of the east-central city of Lyon, vowed to keep her staff and residents safe.

To stop COVID-19 from infecting and killing the vulnerable older adults in her care, Ms Martin and her staff locked themselves in with the 106 residents, while the illness killed more than 9,000 people in other homes in France.

On Monday, Ms Martin and 12 other colleagues who stayed in the home for the full duration have ended their quarantine after undergoing coronavirus tests, which all came back negative.

Staff were pictured hugging relatives they hadn’t seen in almost two months as they exited the building as thankful residents went to the front door to clap the staff for their sacrifice.

a man and a woman standing in a room: Nurses leave the Vilanova nursing home in Corbas, near Lyon, central France, Monday, May 4, 2020. For 47 days and nights, staff and the 106 residents of the Vilanova nursing home waited out the coronavirus storm together, while the illness killed tens of thousands of people in other homes across Europe, including more than 9,000 in France. Because staff and residents were locked in together, Vilanova didn't have to confine people to their rooms like other homes to shield them from the risk of infection brought in from outside. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani) © Provided by Yahoo! News UK Nurses leave the Vilanova nursing home in Corbas, near Lyon, central France, Monday, May 4, 2020. For 47 days and nights, staff and the 106 residents of the Vilanova nursing home waited out the coronavirus storm together, while the illness killed tens of thousands of people in other homes across Europe, including more than 9,000 in France. Because staff and residents were locked in together, Vilanova didn't have to confine people to their rooms like other homes to shield them from the risk of infection brought in from outside. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

Meanwhile in the UK, staff at The White House care home in Teignmouth, Devon also made the decision to move in with residents to ensure their safety.

In March, 10 members of staff moved into the home, where they care for dementia sufferers, and slept in camper vans and shared staff offices, repurposed as sleeping quarters.

Manager Demelza Lamport told the BBC that since moving in they “have established better relationships with the residents" and that the staff have "settled in really well".

Finance and office manager Rebekah Hayden said: "We made the decision because we thought it was going to be the only way to keep them safe.

"It's had a positive effect on the residents - seeing the same faces all the time.

"It wasn't a difficult decision because I am one of the team, but I talk to my son and parents every day - I miss him and he misses me."

a person standing next to a fence: Nurses leave the Vilanova nursing home in Corbas, near Lyon, central France, Monday, May 4, 2020. For 47 days and nights, staff and the 106 residents of the Vilanova nursing home waited out the coronavirus storm together, while the illness killed tens of thousands of people in other homes across Europe, including more than 9,000 in France. Because staff and residents were locked in together, Vilanova didn't have to confine people to their rooms like other homes to shield them from the risk of infection brought in from outside. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani) © Provided by Yahoo! News UK Nurses leave the Vilanova nursing home in Corbas, near Lyon, central France, Monday, May 4, 2020. For 47 days and nights, staff and the 106 residents of the Vilanova nursing home waited out the coronavirus storm together, while the illness killed tens of thousands of people in other homes across Europe, including more than 9,000 in France. Because staff and residents were locked in together, Vilanova didn't have to confine people to their rooms like other homes to shield them from the risk of infection brought in from outside. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

In many European countries, like France, Italy, Spain and the UK, care homes have been ravaged by coronavirus with the elderly and care staff taking the brunt of the pandemic.

The lack of testing is just one in a long list of grievances voiced by staff.

While hospitals all over Europe are struggling with a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment, several nursing homes have reported receiving none at all or struggling with PPE prices, despite catering to an especially vulnerable public with high rates of infection.

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On Monday, care home workers said employers are playing "Russian roulette" with their lives as personal protective equipment (PPE) is withheld or rationed amid unclear guidance, according to a union.

Unison say that staff are being forced to use bin bags to protect themselves from potentially contracting or spreading COVID-19.

Other staff said they had asked for PPE such as masks and visors, but were told "head office is following government guidelines and will only give them out when they suspect someone might have Covid-19".

Public Health England guidance states that staff "should have access to the PPE that protects them for the appropriate setting and context".

On Saturday, the son of a care home nurse who died of coronavirus said the lack of PPE is what killed his mother.

In an online tribute, Ian O’Neal described Suzanne Loverseed, 63, as a “lioness” who gave everything for her children.

He wrote: “At the end, she worked in a care home, with patients dying of this virus. She had no PPE but fearlessly she carried on. That’s what killed her.”

The family were forced to say goodbye to her via an iPad.

On Wednesday, the death toll from coronavirus rose sharply to more than 26,000 after the government included fatalities from outside hospitals, care homes and the wider community in the UK, in its daily announcement for the first time.

The number of people who have died with coronavirus in UK hospitals, care homes and the wider community rose by 315 on Sunday, the lowest since the end of March.

The deaths brought the total number of fatalities to 28, 446.

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