Message from Julia Burrows, Barnsley Director for Public Health
Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen the rates of COVID-19 in Barnsley slowly falling; however, you may have seen reported in the news that we have seen an increase in the number of people testing positive in Barnsley Hospital.
As I’m sure we would all agree, the most vulnerable people in our borough must be protected from COVID-19. Because of this rise in COVID-19 cases in the hospital, the difficult decision to stop all non-essential visits has been taken. I understand this is upsetting for both those in hospital and their families; however, these temporary measures will reduce the number of different people moving around the hospital and help reduce the spread of the virus.
The latest information on how COVID-19 may affect your visit to hospital is available on the Barnsley Hospital website.
Until further notice, when in the hospital, visitors and patients must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth at all times unless they have an exemption. Please expect staff and volunteers to ask you to wear a mask if they see you without one. The hospital is not asking children under the age of 11 to wear face coverings.
I appreciate these are really trying times and want to thank all the patients, families and staff who this is affecting for their support and patience. I also want to reassure families that these measures are temporary and will be under constant review as we do understand the importance and benefits of visits to both the patients and their families.
Last week we passed an important milestone with half a million COVID-19 vaccines administered in Barnsley. It is extremely positive news to see the high numbers of people who have received the vaccine in our borough. I would like to thank the people of Barnsley who have stepped up and led the way with their usual spirit in our fight against the virus. Achieving a higher-than-average uptake of the vaccine has been vital in reducing serious illness and the number of hospitalisations due to COVID-19.
Vaccines provide us with the longest lasting protection from serious illness caused by COVID-19, and there is still plenty of time for those who haven’t yet had theirs to come forward. Appointments are available through nhs.uk/covidvaccine or by calling 119. Alternatively, there are drop-in clinics in Barnsley where people can attend without an appointment. Details of these clinics can be found at barnsleyccg.nhs.uk/covidvaccine.
Surveillance and reporting
I also want to take this opportunity to update you on the changes to the way we will be sharing COVID-19 data.
Due to national changes announced in the Living with COVID plan, the reporting of positive cases is changing. Therefore, we have decided no longer to report weekly updates on the COVID-19 rates across our social media channels. You can still find the daily updated data relating to COVID-19 on the gov.uk website. National surveillance systems, including the ONS infection survey, will continue, and we will continue to maintain local surveillance, response, and support.
Finally, while prevention measures have eased, we can still see the impact of COVID-19 in our communities, and it reminds us of the importance of safe behaviours. I would still encourage everyone to balance the risks wherever possible to keep themselves and others safe. It is still important to wear a face covering in crowded indoor places, wash your hands, let fresh air in and get vaccinated. I continue to repeat this very important message around safe behaviours, as these measures are what will protect you, your loved ones and our communities – not just from COVID-19 but other infectious diseases that can also cause serious illness and disruption.
Thankfully life feels much more ‘normal’ but COVID-19 is still lurking so it is better to build in some light precautions into our everyday lives. Acting as if it has disappeared altogether will make us more at risk if and when a new variant appears.