BARNSLEY’S coronavirus rates are increasing and the town’s director of public health has warned of a ‘continued rise’ now self-isolation requirements have changed.

The rules on whether or not you need to self-isolate changed on Monday - though there are now worries that this may cause a rise in Covid infections across the borough.

New requirements suggest that residents who have had two Covid vaccine doses will no longer have to isolate if they come into contact with someone who has received a positive test.

Instead of isolating for ten days they now are asked to take a PCR test - but this is not compulsory.

These new rules also apply to under-18s.

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Rates had been falling since mid-July - though they had began to level off - but with almost 900 positive test results in the last seven days, Barnsley’s infection rates have once again started to rise.

The current rate - 360 per 100,000 residents - is the highest it’s been this month and is continuing to rise though at nowhere near the same pace as it did in early July when rates increased from less than 100 to more than 800.

Julia Burrows, Barnsley’s director of public health, believes that rates are likely to increase because of the changes to self-isolation and children returning back to school.

Since schools closed for the summer holidays, rates in school-aged children have dropped dramatically - especially in 15 to 19-year-olds whose peak rates have fallen from 2,100.1 to 795.7 - though this is still double the town’s overall rate.

Ms Burrows said: “Both the Barnsley and UK infection rates have increased slightly in the last seven days after falling consistently since July 19.

“It’s possible that changes to to self-isolation requirements from next Monday will impact case rates, and it is perhaps highly likely that schools returning in September and cooler weather in autumn and winter months will cause the number of cases to rise.”

The number of patients in Barnsley Hospital with coronavirus hasn’t dropped below 50 this month - though that number is seemingly dwindling.

A total of 45 people have been admitted to the hospital with the virus up to August 8 - the latest reported figures - though there were 161 admissions in July.

Ms Burrows believes that the reason medics are seeing less people ‘seriously’ ill from coronavirus in Barnsley is thanks to the ongoing vaccination programme.

Almost 85 per cent - 172,324 people - have had at least one dose of the vaccine and more than three-quarters - 154,837 - are now fully vaccinated.

“Across the country, hospital are treating significantly fewer Covid patients than they did during the second wave, but still over a thousand more patients than at the peak of the first wave.

“Remember it is always safer to meet outdoors where possible and try to meet in smaller groups to reduce the risk of transmission - the more people we meet with, the higher the risk of catching and passing on Covid-19.”