CARE homes in Oxfordshire are taking part in a pilot government coronavirus testing programme.

All employees and volunteers will be tested weekly for Covid-19 for four weeks from today with residents every 28 days.

Repeat testing will be initially prioritised for care homes primarily looking after over 65s or those with dementia before being rolled out to all adult care homes.

Any care home dealing with an outbreak, or at increased risk of an outbreak, will also be more intensively tested.

Among those taking part is The Orders of St John Care Trust, which runs Marston Court in Oxford and Spencer Court in Woodstock.

ALSO READ: Almost half Oxfordshire care home deaths due to coronavirus

Chief executive Dan Hayes said: “Our employees and volunteers have been incredible during these unprecedented times, providing the highest level of commitment and compassion to thousands of our community’s residents who need care and support more than ever. We continue to lobby for regular testing, and we welcome the opportunity to be included in the Department of Health and Social Care’s latest pilot."

There have been 29,000 excess deaths - the number of fatalities above the average for the time of year - in care homes in England and Wales during this year's coronavirus outbreak, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

ONS data also showed between April 10 and June 5 almost half of care home deaths in Oxfordshire had been due to coronavirus.