• April 18, 2020

Elaine Doyle writing in the Guardian yesterday compared statistics over coronavirus between the UK and Ireland and found that per 100,000 of population there are twice as many deaths in the UK as in Ireland. However startling as that is she also points out the UK system of counting the figure by leaving out the UK deaths in UK nursing homes skews the result even further:

She writes:

“At the time of writing, 365 people have died in Ireland of Covid-19 and 11,329 have died in the UK. Adjusted for population, there have been 7.4 deaths in Ireland for every 100,000 people. In the UK, there have been 17 deaths per 100,000. In other words, people are dying of coronavirus in the UK at more than twice the rate they are dying in Ireland. Yet, despite Ireland being your closest neighbour, this has barely been mentioned in the British press.”

She says concentration of population does not weight the figure against the UK because Irelans has 39% of its population in the Dublin conurbation while the UK has just 165 inthe Greater London area

“Comparisons between countries inevitably run into difficulties. Overall, Ireland has a lower population density than the UK, which arguably slowed transmission of the virus. However, a larger proportion of the Irish population is centred around the capital city: 39% of us live in the Greater Dublin area, whereas Greater London holds 16% of the population of England. We’re a highly connected population, concentrated to the east of the country, all of which works against us in a pandemic. Given the ease of transmission of the coronavirus within the family home, another factor becomes relevant: the average household in Ireland is larger than that in the UK. Other comparators are more grimly equivalent: both Ireland and the UK began the pandemic with roughly equivalent levels of ICU beds, just over half the EU average.”

She points out that some of the difference may be explained by the different approach of the Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister in the early days of the pandemic:

“When our taoiseach was closing our schools and universities, your prime minister was still telling you to wash your hands. When our government cancelled St Patrick’s Day celebrations, yours allowed the Cheltenham Festival to go ahead and, with it, a potentially massive multi-day super-spreading event of over 250,000 people.”

That last point is of interest because we know at least some of the cases imported to Mann came because the UK did not cancel the Cheltenham event.

Here is the link to her full article:


Image: An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar – left of picture

Bernard Moffatt

Assistant General Secretary Celtic League (15th April 2020)

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