Barnsley Council admits Covid-19 cases are rising in Wombwell - which had the highest death rate during the first wave

Barnsley Council has warned that cases of Covid-19 are rising in a village that has already been badly hit by the virus.
Barnsley town centreBarnsley town centre
Barnsley town centre

The council is sending a mobile testing unit to Wombwell this week amid concerns that coronavirus 'clusters' linked to groups of people socialising have led to a summer spike in cases.

Between March and June, there were 34 deaths from Covid-19 - one of the highest rates in Yorkshire - in the former mining community of Wombwell. The Wombwell South postcode area's death toll of 24 was the highest in the Barnsley district.

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There was also an outbreak of Covid-19 at a meat processing plant on a business park in Wombwell owned by Hull-based Cranswick Convenience Foods. Three workers died and a total of seven of the nine employees who tested positive were hospitalised. The Cranswick factory is based at the Valley Park industrial estate. Among the victims was David Baxter, 55, from Wath-upon-Dearne, and Barnsley's MPs have publicly raised concerns about how the outbreak was handled.

Barnsley Council's leader, Coun Steve Houghton, issued a message to residents on Wednesday evening, warning that the whole town is at risk of further spikes, although Wombwell is an area of particular concern.

Coun Houghton also chairs the Barnsley Outbreak Control Engagement Board and wrote the statement alongside the council's director of public health, Julia Burrows.

He also hinted that Barnsley is at risk of going into local lockdown.

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"We're concerned that we're seeing the number of positive cases of coronavirus in Barnsley creeping up. At the moment we're seeing an increase of positive cases in the Wombwell area but equally, it could happen anywhere across Barnsley.

"If we don't maintain social distancing and follow the rules, the situation for Barnsley could get much worse. Across the country, we've seen places where shops, pubs and workplaces have been forced to close. We need to do everything we can to stop this from happening in Barnsley.

"We're continually taking action to manage the number of cases in both Wombwell and across the whole borough:

"We now have access to data that is shared across health and care partners to ensure we can work together quickly to act on local cases of coronavirus. We'll be using this data to contact people who test positive or who may be at risk as part of our local response. This means you could receive a call, text, letter or visit from someone at Barnsley Council or one of our healthcare partners to offer you support and advice.

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"Alongside the testing site at the Courthouse car park in Barnsley town centre, we're deploying a Mobile Testing Unit to Wombwell from Friday August 21-25. If you have symptoms of coronavirus or you're concerned, you can get a free swab test that takes less than a minute. Book your test at or by calling 119, and you can expect your result the next day.

"Our staff will be out and about in the Wombwell area, talking to local people, sharing key messages on staying safe and encouraging people with concerns to get a test.

"We're continuing to monitor the situation in Barnsley, adapting our approach as required.

"We know that some of these positive cases in Wombwell are from people socialising together. We know you've missed spending time with friends and family but remember these two important rules:

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- When you're outside, don't meet with more than six people together at a time.

- You can only socialise indoors with people from up to two households.

"Remember, in both of these situations, you still must social distance and wash your hands regularly. You should avoid touching anything unnecessarily, but anything you do touch should be cleaned. This includes walls, doors, door handles, the toilet, the sink and taps.

"The closer you get to your friends and family, the easier it is to get the virus and pass it on.

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"After such a long time, it's easy for us to become complacent, and we know many of us are desperate to get back to our daily routines. The key thing you can do to help protect your community is to follow the government's guidance at"

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