Care homes are unprepared to accept coronavirus-positive patients from hospital and will struggle to prevent them passing the virus onto residents and staff, care leaders have warned.
Nadra Ahmed, chairwoman of the National Care Association, said care providers will be "extremely challenged" coping with elderly patients who have tested positive, even in homes with "very, very clear isolation units", which many do not possess.
The Government's new care home plan published on Friday says some patients can be discharged from hospital into care homes after a positive test, but makes it clear no provider should be forced to accept an existing or new patient if they cannot deal with their coronavirus safely.
But Ms Ahmed told Sky News: "We are looking after some of the most vulnerable people who could succumb to this virus ... a care home is a home, it's like your own home and if it's in the home, then you have got to protect everybody in it.
"So to introduce somebody into it, even if you have got isolation, you then have to make sure that the staff who are going to be looking after them, how they are protected.
"Providers are going to be extremely challenged with that unless they have got very, very clear isolation units, and not many homes have that."
She also criticised the "testing fiasco", complaining that results were taking nearly a week to return and not 24 to 48 hours.
Ms Ahmed continued: "It's five to six days, which is just a nonsense, and of course the residents' tests are once a month, so we are still quite widely exposed and not being able to be absolutely 100 per cent sure every single day about the level of that risk."
She also expressed concern about nurses and Care Quality Commission staff moving between different homes regularly.
She said: "We are really concerned that the exposure is still there and we need to shut it all down ... this is a shielded group of people and I think that needs to be taken much more seriously than it is at this moment in time."
Under the Government's adult social-care winter-action plan, visitors to care homes in areas with high numbers of coronavirus cases will continue to be constantly supervised.
Any facility listed by Public Health England's (PHE) surveillance report as being an area of intervention should immediately move to stop visiting, except in "exceptional circumstances", the plan says.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock insisted no-one with coronavirus would be discharged into the “general care” of a care home without having self-isolated for two weeks.
"If a care home doesn't have isolation facilities or we don't think they're good enough, nobody will go to that care home who tests positive," he said.
"There will not be people with coronavirus going into the general care of care homes."