Large Irish nursing homes 2.5 times more likely to have Covid-19 outbreaks, study finds

Rate of disease circulating in the community was ‘key determinant’ of outbreaks in care homes, according to ESRI

The rate of Covid-19 circulating in the community was the key determinant driving outbreaks of the disease in Irish nursing homes, a new study indicates.

Larger nursing homes were 2.5 times more likely to have an outbreak than smaller ones, according to the research by the Economic and Social Research Institute.

Being located in a county with high community rates of Covid-19 was found to have the largest association with the probability of an outbreak.

Nursing homes in counties with the highest rates of Covid-19 were seven times more likely to have an outbreak compared with counties with the lowest levels of community circulation, the authors of the study estimate.


Nursing homes and other long-term residential care centres were at the centre of the Covid-19 pandemic, and outbreaks in these facilities accounted for a substantial proportion of deaths.

In the first year of the pandemic, between March and December 2020, over half of all Covid-19 deaths were linked to outbreaks in care settings.

The authors say their results align with international evidence. “While various measures such as infection and control protocols and the implementation of vaccination programs reduced the impact of the pandemic in long-term residential centres, community levels of disease were clearly important.

“The results should inform the understanding of the factors associated with Covid-19 and provide lessons on how to mitigate the impact of future waves of Covid-19 or other infectious diseases.”

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times