Ireland

Northern Ireland had lowest Covid deaths rate in UK, report states

A report has set out the scale of the differences in fatalities between the four UK regions during the pandemic (Ben Birchall/PA)
A report has set out the scale of the differences in fatalities between the four UK regions during the pandemic (Ben Birchall/PA) A report has set out the scale of the differences in fatalities between the four UK regions during the pandemic (Ben Birchall/PA)

Northern Ireland had fewer deaths per head of population than England, Scotland or Wales across the three years of the pandemic, evidence given to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry has stated.

A report, published on the inquiry website, sets out the scale of the differences in fatalities between the four UK regions.

The second stage of the inquiry is examining key decisions made by the UK Government between January 2020 and February 2022, including communication between Westminster and the devolved areas of the UK.

The report has been prepared for the inquiry by Professor Thomas Hale,  associate professor at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, where he leads the Oxford Covid-19 Government Response Tracker.

The academic stated that Northern Ireland deaths were lower than its three UK neighbours, with its total 34th highest among European nations.

His report said the UK experienced a combination of “relatively high health impacts, economic impacts and long periods of restrictive policies”.

It added: “Over the three-year period from 2020 to 2022, England experienced the 19th highest number of deaths per capita on a global scale, placing it at the 15th position among European nations.

Coronavirus
Coronavirus The report said that Northern Ireland had a lower death rate per head of population than other parts of the UK (Ben Birchall/PA)

“In comparison, Northern Ireland fared relatively better in terms of the pandemic’s impact, securing the 52nd position worldwide and ranking 34th in Europe.

“Scotland followed closely, positioning itself at 38th globally and 27th among European countries. Similarly, Wales achieved the 30th global rank and stood at 21st in Europe.”

Comparing policy responses within the UK, the report said that “some notable differences emerge”.

It stated: “Westminster tended to lift restrictions in England in advance of other nations (eg school and workplace closures) and at certain points had less stringent policy responses than other nations.

“England and Northern Ireland tend to have less stringent policies than Scotland and Wales during the second half of 2020.

“For the latter part of 2021, Northern Ireland had the most stringent measures whereas England had the least stringent measures of the four nations.”

It continued: “For many policy areas there is remarkable consistency between different parts of the UK, particularly in the first wave of the pandemic.

“The most variation is in the use of internal restrictions of movement between cities and counties.

“Towards the second half of the pandemic (mid-2021 onwards) it is clear that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were more likely to use stringent policy measures than England.”

The report also compares the imposition of restrictions between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

It said: “Overall, we do not observe major differences between the two jurisdictions during the initial months of the pandemic, except for the fact that Northern Ireland was particularly slower to impose restrictions on workplaces.

“As observed for all the UK nations, the Republic of Ireland was particularly slow to adopt international travel restrictions in comparison to other countries.”