Pandemic and international comparisons
Sir, – Ger McNamara (Letters, April 11th) suggests that Ireland should have similar outcomes to New Zealand from Covid-19, both being islands with similar population numbers. In fact, we have had about five times as many cases, which the writer attributes to firmer border control measures there.
This analysis misses several important points, however. The Covid-19 pandemic hit New Zealand in summer, where daily temperatures typically exceed 20 Celsius. This can influence host vulnerability to infection and thus the severity of such infection.
Second, the overall population density of the country is, at 18 per square kilometre, one quarter of Ireland’s. Spread is more likely where people are in close proximity.
Also, a striking pattern with Covid-19 is how urban-based it is, even within individual countries. New York, London and Wuhan, for example, with their high population densities have been much more severely hit than adjacent rural areas. Within Ireland, Dublin has had most of the cases recorded. Although Auckland and Dublin have comparable total populations, Dublin has a density more than three times higher than its southern hemisphere counterpart.
There is value in looking to other systems, but it is likely that our near-neighbours, particularly in the United Kingdom, provide the fairest benchmarks. To date, our approach is performing well by such criteria and has amassed enormous public support. Unfortunately, however, there remains a long way to go before it can be fully evaluated. – Yours, etc,