Covid Infection Rates Observed to be Third Higher in Deprived Areas: ESRI Study


A new report has revealed that Covid-19 infection rates were more than a third higher in Ireland’s most deprived areas compared to more affluent regions. Factors such as overcrowding, limited access to private sanitation facilities, jobs unsuitable for remote work, and dependence on public transport contributed to the increased spread and transmission of the virus in disadvantaged communities, heightening their health risks.

The study from the Economic and Social Research Institute highlighted that areas with communal establishments and higher proportions of residents from the Traveller community also experienced elevated Covid-19 infection rates. Communal establishments included nursing homes, direct provision centres, or any congregated living environments.

While area-level deprivation did not directly correlate with ICU admission rates, the report found that regions with communal establishments, higher shares of certain racial and ethnic minority groups, and poorer health among the infected had increased ICU admission rates.

Commissioned by Pobal, an organization that supports communities and local agencies to achieve social inclusion and development, the report recommends that future pandemic planning should consider existing spatial and health inequalities, particularly among minority groups. These areas may require additional health resources and a tailored public health strategy that accounts for risk factors such as age and underlying health conditions.

Since the start of the pandemic, over 1.7 million people in Ireland have contracted Covid-19. According to the latest data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, there was a moderate increase in confirmed Covid-19 cases in the week leading up to last Saturday, with 1,108 cases reported compared to 1,049 the previous week. These figures are considered an underestimate since only cases referred by doctors for testing are counted. Last week, there were 387 hospital admissions and one ICU admission, but no deaths were reported by the HPSC.

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