Coronavirus infection rates in UK care homes may be as high as 70 percent, the chief executive of a major care provider has claimed, casting doubts over the validity of the government’s official Covid-19 figures.

Jeremy Richardson, head of Four Seasons Health Care, one of Britain’s biggest independent providers of care for the elderly, claimed on Sky News on Wednesday that the number of Covid-19 infections in such facilities is being massively underreported by PM Boris Johnson’s administration.

I think the number is probably up at 60 or 70 percent. We’re running at a similar number; I think the numbers are substantially underestimated.

The UK government has been widely criticized for not including deaths outside of hospitals – including within care homes – in its official daily Covid-19 numbers.

Speaking at Monday’s Downing Street press conference, England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty claimed that around 13.5 percent of care homes across the country had reported an outbreak of Covid-19 – nowhere near the figures being suggested by Richardson.

The shocking claims come as Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed that 433 care homes in Scotland had been struck by the coronavirus, resulting in over 200 deaths. There are just over 1,000 social care providers in Scotland.

During a daily Covid-19 media briefing, Sturgeon announced that a total of 962 suspected or confirmed coronavirus deaths had been recorded in Scotland as of Sunday. The Scottish National Party (SNP) leader said that 25 percent of all Covid-19 related deaths had occurred in care homes.

Officials have come under fire for including graphs detailing Covid-19 data which show the UK doing better at combating the deadly virus than countries like France, who include infections and deaths outside of hospital settings.

Figures published by the Department for Health and Social Care on Wednesday showed that 98,476 people in the UK had tested positive for the virus since the start of the outbreak. Of these, 12,868 have died, 761 of them in the last 24-hour period of reporting.