Message from Julia Burrows, Director of Public Health, Barnsley – 24 September 2020

I’m sure many of us tuned into the Prime Minister’s update on Tuesday evening.

The government describe their new guidance as a tougher package of national measures combined with local lockdown measures where needed. The government’s expectation is that the measures for England will need to remain in place until March 2021. You can read more about them on the government’s website.

It’s so important that we all continue to follow this guidance. It’s in place to protect your family and friends, to keep schools and businesses open, to protect our NHS services and to stop people from losing their lives to the virus.

I know it’s a worrying and often frustrating time, but it’s crucial we each take responsibility to do everything we can to control the virus in our borough and protect the lives of Barnsley people. The stark reality of living through a pandemic of a highly infectious disease is that what we choose to do individually will have an impact on the risk for others, so it’s not simply a matter of individual decisions about personal risk-taking.

Data update

National situation

The national increase in Coronavirus (COVID-19) has continued and is getting steeper.

View the image below of UK daily cases by date on the government’s website.

Daily cases by date reported - 24 September 2020

This is reflecting the picture in some other countries in Europe. Although cases in the UK are not yet as high as in countries such as Spain and Italy, we’re seeing an exponential rise, sadly accompanied by an increase in hospitalisations from Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK.

The increase in cases and hospitalisations is also being seen in South Yorkshire.

The increase in cases, alongside hospitalisations, are sure signs that the virus is spreading more seriously and will increasingly affect people who are more vulnerable to severe disease.

Barnsley’s situation

The chart below shows the trend in cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Barnsley to date.

The most recent confirmed seven-day rate per 100,000 population is 22. In Barnsley, the numbers have not been rising as fast as other areas over the last few weeks, however we’re now seeing signs of an upward trend. 

Whereas much of the national increase through September has been most notable in 15-34-year-olds in Barnsley, the spread is more even across age groups.

Our numbers are currently the lowest in South Yorkshire, but they will inevitably rise and unfortunately, we’re seeing hospital admissions starting to rise and tragically we’ll see more deaths over the coming weeks and months.

This is a difficult message to give, and I do not want to alarm people unnecessarily, but I hope it will encourage you to follow the guidance which will reduce your own risk and help to protect your family, friends and neighbours. 

We’re not an area of concern, intervention or interest on the government watch list. We do not expect to be added to the watch list when it’s updated today, given our recent relatively lower and more stable numbers compared to so many areas of the country.

View the image below of Barnsley’s positive cases data on the government’s website.

Daily cases by specimen date - 24 September 2020

Key things we must all do in our everyday lives

  • Wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover your face in enclosed spaces, especially where social distancing may be difficult and where you will come into contact with people you do not usually meet.
  • Stay two metres apart where possible.

Limit the mixing of households
You will have read about the government’s rule of six. It’s important to recognise that it’s safer to limit the number of households you mix with. We know most transmission in the community takes place in the home, so reducing this to essential contact will help to keep our families, friends and the wider community safe.

Download the NHS COVID19 app to your phone
Using the app to scan the QR code posters before entering venues will mean you can be quickly told if you have been in contact with someone with Coronavirus (COVID-19). This means you can isolate quickly to stop the spread of the virus. Read more about it on the NHS website.

Make sure you know when to self-isolate
Self-isolation is when you do not leave your home because you have, or might have, Coronavirus (COVID-19). This helps to stop the virus spreading to other people.

Self-isolation is different to social distancing and shielding. You must self-isolate (stay at home) immediately if:

  • you have any symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
  • you've tested positive – this means you have Coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • you live with someone who has symptoms or tested positive
  • someone in your support bubble has symptoms or tested positive
  • you're told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app
  • you arrive in the UK from a country with a high Coronavirus (COVID-19) risk.

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