GOVERNMENT support to help care homes combat the threat of coronavirus has been welcomed by a leading care provider in the district.

Health secretary Matt Hancock announced a package of funding and measures to protect both residents and staff.

It comes after alarming figures revealed there were over 12,000 Covid-related deaths of care home residents nationally, between March 2 and May 1.

Local care homes will benefit from a share of the new £600m Infection Control Fund, which will be ringfenced for social care.

It will be handed to local authorities to protect care homes from the spread of the virus, by helping them to cover the costs of implementing measures to restrict transmission.

HC-One offers nursing and residential care at homes across the country, including Acomb Court, in the centre of Hexham.

A spokeswoman for HC-One said: "The pressure the sector is under has been well documented, but we are doing our utmost to protect our residents and colleagues alike during these exceptionally challenging times.

"This includes creating and regularly updating our own Covid-19 specific training modules and ensuring that we have plenty of personal protective equipment (PPE) across our homes and regional hubs.

"We welcome the government's announcement on additional funding and we are continuing to work closely with our local health and care partners."

Local authorities will conduct daily reviews to ensure care homes have all the support they need with staffing and accessing PPE.

Homes will have a named clinical advisor, while care providers will be asked to restrict staff to working in only one home, where possible.