BARNSLEY’S recent improvements in tackling the coronavirus pandemic are unlikely to continue in the coming months, health bosses have revealed.

Over recent weeks, there have been around three to six cases per day across the borough, meaning cases are lowering, but historical figures still suggest Barnsley has been one of the worst-hit towns in the country.

Public health director Julia Burrows said: “It is impossible to predict with any accuracy what will happen with the virus, however while we are at a relatively low rate now, it is likely cases will start to rise over the late summer as we approach autumn.

“We may then see much more pressure as winter arrives.

“Figures show the overall Barnsley rate as 817 per 100,000 cases but this is the cumulative rate since the beginning of the pandemic.

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“The figure is high - one of the highest in the country - however it is a historical picture. What’s important is to understand the current weekly rates as they show what is happening now with the transmission of the virus and guides any action we need to take.”

More encouraging is that for the first time since March, there have been no coronavirus positive inpatients at Barnsley Hospital.

“At the peak there were 71 positive inpatients including 10 whose condition required mechanical ventilation,” Ms Burrows said.

“The hospital continues to be busy with high levels of emergency demand as well as increasing routine care which had been scaled back in order to manage the pandemic.

“This is one of several positive signs that the virus continues to reduce in Barnsley, however the risk of coronavirus persists and we need to continue to work together to minimise the risk of transmission in Barnsley whilst supporting local people, communities and businesses.”

Barnsley’s current seven-day average is 11 per 100,000 of the town’s population, which although rising, is much less than the weekly rate at the beginning of last month - 54.7 per 100,000.

“Over the past few weeks, we have seen between zero and four cases per week, per ward,” Ms Burrows added.

“No one area of Barnsley has been disproportionally affected - our numbers are spread out across different parts of the borough.

“So while new coronavirus cases in Barnsley have been lower, the figures continue to fluctuate.

Ms Burrows said health bosses are doing everything to minimise the risk while also ensuring correct plans are in place to act quickly if an outbreak does occur.

“If we experience bigger clusters or outbreaks in the meantime, these will create spikes in our numbers,” Ms Burrows said. “It is very unlikely we will avoid those completely, but we will keep working with all settings to minimise the risk and ensure any increase in cases is managed and very proactively.”

There are currently 2,045 cases in Barnsley, with 247 coronavirus-related deaths registered to July 31.