WALES' social care sector is "paying the price" for the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, it has been claimed, after figures revealed deaths in Gwent care homes have outstripped those in hospital.

New figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show Covid-19 was listed on the death certificate of nine people who died in care homes in Gwent in the week leading up to Friday, May 29 - compared to five people in hospital over the same period.

And now, chairman of Care Forum Wales - which represents Wales' social care sector - Mario Kreft has said the industry is "paying the price for the way social care was pushed to the back of the queue when it came to having the necessary resources to protect residents and staff from Covid-19".

“The fact that the number of care home deaths from covid is now greater in Gwent than the mortality rate in hospitals is shocking but sadly not surprising because the NHS was prioritised at the expense of social care," he said.

“Anecdotally, the message from our members is that admissions from hospitals have been a major factor in spreading the virus like wildfire in care homes, as opposed to community transmission.

“While those patients were not displaying symptoms when they were discharged from hospital, they later developed symptoms and infected other residents.

“There is now a very heavy toll on the residents and it’s clear from those care homes who have taken in hospital patients that there has been a very high risk of importing the infection into the care home and this has had tragic consequences.”

The ONS figures, which cover deaths registered up to Saturday, June 6, also show the previous two weeks followed the same trend, with 21 deaths in care homes compared to nine in hospital where Covid-19 was listed on the death certificate.

The greatest number of deaths in care homes over the three-week period between Saturday, May 9, and Friday, May 29 - 16 - were recorded in Monmouthshire, followed by 12 in Newport.

In both Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent, one person died with the coronavirus in a care home over this period.

However, the number of people who have died with coronavirus in hospital in the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board area since the start of the pandemic remains higher overall, at 344, compared with 122 in care homes.

The latest Public Health Wales figures show one person died in Gwent after contracting coronavirus in the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Tuesday - the first death in the region since Sunday, May 31.

But the statistics also showed there were no new cases of the infection recorded in the area since Saturday, June 7, when there were five.

Across Wales, nine more people died after contracting the virus, and there were 42 new cases of the disease - with Rhondda Cynon Taf, which had 11 new cases, the only local authority area to record more than ten.