Charities, as well as the Labour Party have called on ministers to take urgent action to help increase the number of visits for care homes in England.

Helen Wildbore, the director of the Relatives and Residents Association, said "We need a better balance between protecting people from the virus and protecting their wellbeing and thinking about what makes a good life. People don’t just want to survive, they want to live.”

Liz Kendall, the shadow social care minister, said the government should introduce more testing and protective equipment, while a charity that represents care residents and their families called for a wider re-evaluation of visiting rules to take into account the impact of separation from loved ones.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “We realise this is a very difficult time for families and care home residents who want to see their loved ones. Our first priority must be to protect residents and staff by ensuring visits are carried out safely to prevent outbreaks.

Nadra Ahmed, the chair of National Care Association, said "While a system of proper, consistent, sustainable testing would help, in the longer term one solution could be the government’s proposal for mass tests with results in as little as 20 minutes, which could be used for visitors as well as staff and residents."

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