HEALTH bosses in Barnsley have admitted they are expecting to see a rise in coronavirus cases - but only because testing is picking up pace.

There has recently been a spate of outbreaks in schools and workplaces, though Public Health officials say it is something to be expected and should not cause concern for residents.

Figures released by the government show there has been just over 1,000 cases in the town to date, with 436.8 people per 100,000 residents contracting the virus - leaving Barnsley the 12th worst-hit local authority in the country.

Public Health director Julia Burrows said: “Over the last couple of weeks, in common with many other parts of the country, we’ve started to see linked cases of suspected or confirmed coronavirus across our borough in various settings.”

The term ‘clusters’ has been used when there are a number of suspected or confirmed positive tests in a certain area or a workplace - and Ms Burrows admits this is likely to continue in the near future.

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“It’s happening across the country and we know that over the next few months we’re likely to continue to see clusters in places such as care homes, schools and work places,” she added.

“We know that for most people coronavirus will be a mild illness, but there are more vulnerable people in our communities, including the elderly and those with existing long-term conditions.

“While we cannot eliminate the risk, short of a full lockdown which causes its own problems, we’re supporting work places to continue to run services while managing the risk and reducing the contact with others.”

Due to the number of tests being rolled out, it is likely that the numbers in the local region will ‘start to increase’, and bosses feel that perceived high rates in Barnsley are related to effective testing and a population that is, on average, older than the rest of the country.

“I understand it can be worrying if you’re part of a group of people who are being tested for coronavirus,” she added.

“However, testing is really important as it helped us manage what’s happening in Barnsley.

“It also means that we’re likely to see the overall number of positive cases for Barnsley rise, as we’ll be picking up on more of them.

“This is a sign we’re doing the right thing, and the more information we gather, the better we can understand the virus and highlight where to take action.”