A ROMSEY nursing home is battling a coronavirus outbreak after keeping the deadly bug at bay for eight months, the Advertiser can reveal.

Marie Louise House Nursing Home, Newton Lane, announced 13 residents and 17 staff tested positive for Covid-19, according to a statement on their website from December 23.

This has forced the home to go into lockdown, meaning visits from family and friends have been suspended until further notice, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Residents and staff were not vaccinated on December 22 and 23 when Crosfield Hall, Broadwater Road, was transformed into a vaccination hub, due to there being "limited stock" available, the nursing home confirmed.

However, they hope this will change in early January when more doses arrive in Romsey.

A spokesperson from Marie Louise House Nursing Home said the outbreak was reported on December 8.

They said: "When the pandemic first started, Maire Louise House reported a number of positive cases; however the home maintained an eight-month period, until the new variant appeared, without any resident or staff member testing positive for the virus.

"This current outbreak within Marie Louise House is obviously a concern for residents, their families, our staff and the charity itself."

They added staff checks have been increased with the rollout of Lateral Flow Device Testing (LFD), which sees staff tested before they start their shift and results are available within 30 minutes.

When asked how the COVID-19 vaccine from Oxford University and AstraZeneca will make a difference once the jab is rolled out on Monday, the spokesperson said: "We have been informed that care home residents and health care workers will be priority groups.

"We will be working closely with the GP Practices in co-ordinating vaccine clinics once the details are communicated to Marie Louise House."

The spokesperson added: "While the home is currently closed to all but essential visits, social engagement and communication between families and residents is supported virtually using iPad and FaceTime; YouTube links to church services provide spiritual support."

In response to the news, managing director of UK community services at Leonard Cheshire, Hugh Fenn, told the Advertiser they have stopped all visits at their care homes in Tier 4 and Tier 3 areas, impacting Fryers House in Romsey.

He said: "This is the best way to protect the people we support and our frontline staff. As a result of the measures we’ve put in place since the pandemic started, we’ve thankfully been able to keep cases across all our UK services to a low level, with deaths consistent with other years."

The Test Valley Borough Council area recorded 79 infections on Wednesday, bringing the total number of Covid-19 cases since March to 2,272.