The COVID-19 cases for April 20th have been used to draw two maps: one showing the rate of incidence of counties and councils relative to their jurisdictional average, and the other showing the rate of change over the April 15-20 period.
The ‘rate of incidence’ map shows essentially the same pattern as did the earlier two maps (for April 9/10 and April 15). Once a county or council got off to a bad start with respect to the number of cases, it seems extremely difficult to reduce such clusters: Cavan being a case in point. Conversely, ‘low rate’ counties or councils (such as Wexford and Fermanagh & Omagh) are keeping their ranking.
Lessons can be learned from this for future disease outbreaks. Health authorities need to ask themselves: what went wrong in Cavan, greater Dublin and greater Belfast? and what went right (or less wrong) in Wexford and Fermanagh & Omagh? Fermanagh touches Cavan, and Wexford has one of Ireland’s biggest ports. So it is simplistic to state that (a) ‘small-town’ mostly rural counties/councils are relatively safe, and (b) COVID-19 pathways into Ireland followed transport routes (Rosslare has ferry routes to UK and France, two ‘high-COVID-19’ countries). Are there hospital, GP or nursing home governance practices in Wexford and Fermanagh & Omagh that are significantly higher quality than in less fortunate counties and councils?
The rate of increase map shows much more variation in RoI than in NI. Perhaps this is due to the terribly high death rates in selected nursing homes in the South? Or perhaps the rate of testing in RoI is being carried out at varying degrees of intensity across different counties? The situation looks very worrying for Cavan: a significantly higher COVID-19 rate of incidence to begin with now being compounded by a high rate of change. No wonder it gets redder with every new map. It could be the worst-affected county or council by April 25th.
The NISRA figures of April 17th (figure 3, page 4) imply that NI COVID-19-related deaths are 33% higher compared to the PHA deaths figures. Even with this factored in, NI’s deaths seem to be roughly where one would expect, given NI’s share of the island’s population.
Both UK and RoI have seen their relative rankings decline since March 28th for deaths per million of the population for countries with a population of more than 300,000. The UK has moved from ninth-worst to fifth-worst, whilst the RoI has gone from 15th to 9th. Austria (13th to 16th), Iran (6th to 14th) and Denmark (10th to 13th) have improved significantly. What can we learn from these countries: (i) to prepare for the next pandemic, and (ii) to mitigate the current pandemic?
Thankfully, the percentage daily change for cumulative cases and deaths for NI, RoI, Uk and the World do seem to be on a significant decline.
Further details, and many more graphs can be found at my COVIDWATCH webpage.
Philip McGuinness teaches at Dundalk Institute of Technology, and loves to walk around and over the wee perfect hills of the Ring Of Gullion.