Families desperate to visit elderly relatives in care homes face further delays due to a shortage of test kits.
The Government has withdrawn Randox, a brand of home-test kits used in care homes, over concerns they are “not up to standard”, and is seeking an alternative “as soon as possible”.
MHA, which runs a string of care homes in London, said it was “disappointed and frustrated by the latest failure in the care home testing regime”.
Chief executive Sam Monaghan told the BBC: “We are now heading into our third week of no testing for the majority of our care homes following the Randox debacle and it looks likely to last weeks more.
“The impact continues to be felt hardest by our residents and their families who have had to forgo contact with their loved ones to keep them safe, and our staff who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic.”
Almost 20,000 residents have died during the pandemic, with a Commons report saying care homes had been “thrown to the wolves”.
Earlier this month the Government said staff would be tested every week and residents every 28 days.
Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said at the time this would keep residents and staff safe after a study showed that thousands of people working in care homes who had the disease but did not have symptoms had spread the virus.
Some providers have been allowing outdoor, socially distanced visits with personal protective equipment, but visits indoors are unlikely to be allowed again until regular testing of staff and residents can take place.
Andrew Knight, chief executive of Care UK, which runs more than 100 homes, said most of its facilities in England would have to wait at least five weeks for another round of testing.
In a letter to relatives he said communication from officials about the supply problems had been “sorely lacking”.
A Department of Health statement said: “We have been doing everything we can to ensure care home residents and staff are protected … care homes can continue to use test kits from other suppliers.”
Last week the Government announced visits in care homes in England could resume when they were safe.