Elderly people in Scottish care homes are continuing to be “locked up” if they are deemed a close contact of someone with Covid, despite the UK government scrapping the rule in England.

The campaign group Care Home Relatives Scotland (CHRS) said it was concerned that residents who tested negative were still being forced to stay in their rooms.

New rules came into force in England last week ending the requirement to isolate for 10 days or undertake additional testing if residents do not have symptoms.

Instead, they should avoid contact with anyone who is at higher risk of becoming severely unwell if they are infected such as those who are immunocompromised.

Cathy Russell, of CHRS said it “very concerned” about the effect of repeated periods of isolation on the mental wellbeing of residents.

She said: “Very often it is public health who will tell them [care providers] to isolate a resident.

READ MORE: Covid hospitalisations fall in Scotland as more than 5000 people test positive for the virus

“If you are in a Covid pathway and you decide to isolate - that might happen to you once in a year, for people in a care home that can be happening every other week.

“We have a great deal of concern about the impact of isolation."

She said the practice was also breaching care standards which came into force in 2018, which state that the wishes of residents should be taken into account.

She said: “These people are still being locked up in their rooms if they are deemed to be a close contact and it is being done against their will.

“So their wishes are not being respected and they are being treated differently from everyone else in society because everyone else who is a close contact who tests negative does not have to isolate.

“Families be writing to care providers to say ‘you don’t have my permission to isolate my next of kin if they don’t have Covid’.”

In response, the Scottish Government said it is working with Public Health Scotland to review the remaining restrictions in place in care homes in recognition of progress made with vaccinations and the new treatments that are available for Covid-19.

Residents who contract Covid do not have to isolate for 28 days, after the initial 10-day period, even if they are a close contact.

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The latest figures show that as of March 29, 348 (33%) of adult care homes had a current case of suspected Covid-19.

In the week ending 27 March 192 deaths were registered where Covid-19 was on the death certificate - 29% were in care homes and 63% in hospitals.

People living in care homes will have the right to see their loved ones, even during a pandemic, under new standards being introduced that were announced last week by Kevin Stewart, Minister for Social Care.

The move will see ‘Anne’s Law’ put into practical effect whilst legislation is being prepared.

The proposed law is named after Anne Duke, whose daughter Natasha Hamilton called for the change so that she could visit her mother, who has dementia, during the pandemic.

READ MORE: SNP Government accused of breaking pre-election pledge to tackle 'dementia tax'

Under new changes care home residents will be able to name a person or persons who can directly participate in meeting their care needs.

Mr Stewart said the Care Inspectorate, under its existing legal powers, will now have a strengthened role to ensure that the new standards are implemented and upheld.

The regulator said it has prepared guidance for providers to put the new standards into practice “from today”.

Ms Russell said: “We are really pleased to see that there is progress on this and we sincerely hope it will work.

"We attended the Scottish Care conference last Friday and everything there was pointing towards the care industry welcoming this change and wanting to crack on with it. So we are quite optimistic.”

Social Care Minister Kevin Stewart said: “Our recently revised guidance for care homes recognises the considerable progress made due to the positive impact of vaccination and the additional treatments now available for Covid-19 while ensuring protective measures are still in place to keep people safe.

“We are working with Public Health Scotland to review the remaining recommendations in place for adult care homes, balancing risk with harms, so that care homes can return to normality, as soon as is possible.

“Last week we announced changes to the Health and Social Care Standards which means that people living in adult care homes now have the right to see someone who is dear to them, even during an outbreak.  

"People living in adult care homes can also nominate someone to take part in meeting their care needs.”

It comes after Labour MSP Monica Lennon voiced criticism after it emerged Nicola Sturgeon and her senior ministers failed to visit a single care home since the start of the Covid pandemic.

A total of 4020 residents died with the virus in Scotland and the First Minister has faced tough criticism over the policy of discharging infected patients from hospitals into homes.over the last two years.

The lack of visits emerged in a response to a parliamentary question from Kevin Stewart to Lennon.

Scotland’s Chief Social Work Adviser Iona Colvin and Chief Medical Officer Sir Gregor Ian Smith have both also failed to visit a home.