ACCORDING to public health director Julia Burrows, Covid-19 would be considered the cause of death on a person’s death certificate if documented as the single cause or as initiating the cause.

She told the Chronicle that the headline-grabbing figure of 26 was ‘misleading’ and 576 people had Covid-19 recorded as the cause of death on their certificates completed at Barnsley Hospital.

The 576 statistic is made up of 453 patients with Covid-19 only in part 1a of their death certificate and 123 who had the virus in part 1b or 1c as a contributory factor.

The Barnsley population is at a higher risk of severe illness and death from Covid-19 due to having an older population, higher rates of chronic conditions such as heart and lung disease and other factors we now know to increase the risk from this infection.

Julia added: “These people would not have died at that time if they had not caught Covid-19 - some of them may have had other pre-existing conditions which could increase infection risk or the chance of becoming severely ill from Covid-19.

“However, it was infection that caused their death, not their pre-existing condition.

“This figure does not include all people in Barnsley who died from Covid-19. For example, people may have died from Covid-19 in other hospitals, care homes or at home.

“In addition, some people may have died from other conditions, but Covid-19 infection contributed to them dying earlier.

“It is with huge sorrow that we acknowledge the deaths of over 1,000 people in Barnsley within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test (since the pandemic’s start).

“Each and every individual represents a significant loss to family, friends and our borough, and we want to take this opportunity to pay our respects.

“Although case rates in Barnsley are reducing, they remain at a high level.

“We must all remain dedicated to reducing the impact of Covid-19 in our communities by following the safe behaviours that reduce the chances of becoming ill and spreading infection.”