Nursing homes around the world were excluded from emergency preparation plans as government’s rushed to ensure that hospitals could handle an onslaught of coronavirus patients during the beginning of the pandemic, a report by the New York Times detailed.

The pandemic’s deadly impact in European nursing homes are a large part of the reason why those countries lead the world in per capita deaths, according to the report. Multiple countries, including Sweden and Belgium, turned away elderly patients or sent them back to nursing homes as they anticipated “an expected crush of virus cases.”  

The British government’s approach was to send older hospital patients, even those with the disease, back into nursing homes. A British emergency adviser explained that government officials thought the move would shield residents from being exposed to the disease. 

Similar policies were implemented across the United States, which have been met with much criticism. In the US, 40% of its coronavirus death toll has been linked to long-term care facilities. 

The analysis also revealed that just one-third of European nursing homes had infectious disease teams in place before the coronavirus crisis. Additionally, a majority of facilities didn’t have in-house doctors nor any care arrangements with outside physicians.

“But by fixating on saving their hospitals, European leaders sometimes left nursing-home residents and staff to fend for themselves,” the report explained.