THE town’s coronavirus infection rates have almost doubled in the last week - leading health bosses to urge the public to ‘step up’ to avoid tougher measures being enforced.

Last week the infection rate was 440.2 per 100,00 residents and it’s now 662.7 - the highest figure since July 21 and the worst-rate in England.

This has led Barnsley’s Outbreak Control Board to issue a statement to residents across the borough.

A joint statement by chair Sir Steve Houghton and director of public health Julia Burrows said: “The infection rate increase we are seeing in Barnsley is largely in the school ages case rates of ten-to-19-year-olds following their return to school and the related increase in testing.

“There is a smaller rise in most other age groups which is likely to reflect more people mixing now that restrictions have eased and the dominant Delta variant being much more transmissible.

“Throughout the pandemic we have seen higher case rates than other areas of the country due to our older population, higher levels of chronic disease and deprivation, along with a higher proportion of workers who have to leave home to work than many other areas.

“We ask that you consider wearing a face covering in crowded and enclosed settings, meet outdoors or in well-ventilated places, wash your hands frequently, try to keep your distance from people and get fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and flu when eligible.

“The more reassuring news is we are still not seeing very many deaths in hospital for positive patients though every single death is a tragedy and a further reminder why vaccination and other precautions remain so crucial.”