CORONAVIRUS outbreaks have been identified at ten care homes in Barnsley, health bosses admitted this week.

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) - totalling 28 deaths - reflect fatalities in the town’s care homes from April 15 but medics are keen to street that the figure includes residents who have died from underlying health reasons.

Across the UK, care homes notified the Care Quality Commission (CQC) of 4,343 deaths of residents in homes, the ONS said.

It is the first time the CQC death notifications for suspected or confirmed Covid-19 in care homes have been published.

Julia Burrows, director for Public Health, said: “We’re aware that cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in residents at ten homes in Barnsley.

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“The homes are currently closed to visitors and new residents. Since April 15, there’s been a total of 28 deaths at homes, although this includes people who may have died for underlying health reasons unrelated to Covid-19.

“Staff at the homes have been given health advice about the symptoms of coronavirus and are closely monitoring residents and their own health, looking for symptoms such as fever, a cough or difficulty breathing.

“A number of residents who are experiencing symptoms are being isolated within their rooms or cared for in a separate area of their care home, while members of staff with symptoms are self-isolating at home.

“We’re working closely with Public Health England and NHS partners to support the care homes to try and stop the virus spreading.”

No information has been released on which Barnsley homes have been struck by the outbreak, which has claimed more than 60 lives in the town.

While many homes have resorted to laying on their own entertainment schedules to boost morale for both staff and residents, worries have been expressed over workloads and risk.

Stephanie Peacock, MP for Barnsley East, recently visited Parkside and Valley Park homes in Wombwell and paid tribute to staff members’ heroic efforts.

“It’s so important that we support the fantastic work local care homes and carers do in the incredibly difficult circumstances they currently face in the social care sector,” she added.

“I was struck by the compassion and dedication of the staff at the homes, and really enjoyed chatting to residents about their experiences.”

Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis called for workers’ efforts to be rewarded in the long run, with better wages, to reflect their ‘vital’ work.

He said: “This crisis has shown who really matters in our economy - the doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants, cleaners, porters, administrators, shop workers, refuse collectors, postal workers and so many more besides - and we cannot return to the pre-coronavirus normality of undervaluing and underpaying them for the vital work they do.

“When we, together, come through this crisis their service must be remembered and it must be properly rewarded - starting with forging a new economic consensus.”