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Debunked: It's false to claim that fewer than 100 people have died directly from Covid-19

Over 1,600 people with Covid-19 have died in Ireland.

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A FACEBOOK POST has claimed that fewer than 100 people have died directly from Covid-19 in Ireland. 

The post, which was shared at the end of May, states that “less than 100 people have died directly from corona virus [sic] in Ireland”.

“It is not a Pandemic,” it states. 

Many claims have speculated about Ireland’s coronavirus data and have sought to question the severity of the disease. 

This post is false. Ireland’s current death toll from Covid-19 stands at 1,703

Capture Source: Facebook

The claim

The post, which was made on Facebook, stated that “less than 100 people have died directly” from Covid-19. 

“It is not a Pandemic if it was that bad do you think leo would be in the pheonix park [sic] with friends ???”

“This is a scam.”

The post appears to question the necessity of strict restrictions by stating that the death toll from Covid-19 is actually much lower in reality than is being indicated by official figures. 

The post doesn’t provide a source for the claim that less than 100 people have died directly from Covid-19. 

Department of Health data, announced on Thursday evening by Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan, confirmed that the death toll of people who had Covid-19 in Ireland is now 1,703. 

Latest data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, which is published daily, breaks down deaths until 9 June. 

Of 1,700 deaths, 1,440 were among confirmed cases, while 95 were among probable cases. It records 165 deaths among possible cases. 

It records that 1,555 deaths were among people with “underlying clinical conditions”, or 91.47%. 

The median age of deaths is 84, while the mean age is 82. 

Capture

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has repeatedly said that people with conditions such as chronic heart disease and diabetes are more likely to be at risk from the disease. 

Excess deaths

TheJournal.ie has already looked at whether we can yet measure the ‘excess deaths’ in Ireland – whether the number of deaths here is any higher than usual.

Although the CSO does publish quarterly figures on the number of deaths in Ireland, data for the first quarter of 2020 has not yet been published.

Even when this data is released, statistics for January to March are not likely to show that Covid-19 had any major impact, as there were only 71 deaths from the virus up to 31 March.

Although it could be argued that the number of overall deaths during that period was comparable to other years, health officials expected a surge in the number of deaths in the weeks that followed.

That’s why strict restrictions were announced by the government.

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All information on cases and deaths, compiled by the CSO from HPSC data, is also published here

While data on excess deaths is not yet available, the data we do have shows that the claim is clearly false.

Much more than 100 people with Covid-19 have died. Many people with no underlying health conditions have died from the virus, while otherwise healthy people have also taken seriously ill from Covid-19, including having to be treated in ICU. 

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 ****

There is a lot of false news and scaremongering being spread in Ireland at the moment about coronavirus. Here are some practical ways for you to assess whether the messages that you’re seeing – especially on WhatsApp – are true or not. 

STOP, THINK AND CHECK

Look at where it’s coming from. Is it someone you know? Do they have a source for the information (e.g. the HSE website) or are they just saying that the information comes from someone they know? A lot of the false news being spread right now is from people claiming that messages from ‘a friend’ of theirs. Have a look yourself – do a quick Google search and see if the information is being reported elsewhere.

Secondly, get the whole story, not just a headline. A lot of these messages have got vague information (“all the doctors at this hospital are panicking”) and don’t mention specific details. This is often – but not always a sign – that it may not be accurate.

Finally, see how you feel after reading it. A lot of these false messages are designed to make people feel panicked. They’re deliberately manipulating your feelings to make you more likely to share it. If you feel panicked after reading something, check it out and see if it really is true.

Have you gotten a message on WhatsApp or Facebook or Twitter about coronavirus that you’re not sure about and want us to check it out? Message or mail us and we’ll look into debunking it. WhatsApp: 085 221 4696 or Email: answers@thejournal.ie 

TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here

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