Making sense of statistics


Sir, – Buncrana is being portrayed as a veritable centre of infection (“Buncrana records highest rate of Covid-19 in the State and Dingle the lowest”, News, November 6th). It is clearly not.

The positive test rate of 595 per 100,000 is just about the most meaningless statistic as Buncrana has a population of 5,911. Therefore, there are 35 positive tests in Buncrana. And probably fewer, given the number of false positives.

While it’s clearly 35 too many and a local outbreak that has to be managed, surely the local health professionals are capable of dealing with this small number. If not, we can throw our hat at containment.

As to the metric used by Nphet, it has its uses in terms of the national average and also of Dublin, with a population of over a million. In terms of very small population centres, like Buncrana, it is meaningless. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 9.