The official number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ireland rose to 8,928 yesterday after test results which were sent to Germany for testing were included in the figures.
The number of cases in Galway, as of midnight on Thursday, now stands at 169, after nine more people were diagnosed with the disease in yesterday’s data.
Behind every number in these statistics is a person with a disease caused by a virus with no cure. Every number has a name.
While keeping this in mind, statistics are important in order to analyse the current situation for the government and health experts and can offer insights into where countries stand, especially when making predictions.
One way which experts are looking at the number of cases and deaths is by calculating the number of confirmed cases or deaths per 100,000 people.
It is by using this calculation that the Spanish media is reporting that the country now has the world’s highest mortality rate, despite Italy reporting more deaths.
Crime rates are often calculated in this way to give a truer picture of the prevalence of crime in a city or area.
Using this formula, and ignoring microstates and other countries with very small populations, Ireland is the sixth worst affected country in the world in terms of confirmed cases, after Spain, Italy, France, Belgium and Switzerland.
Before looking at the numbers, however, it is important to remember one or two things.
Comparing the number of deaths per 100,000 population is not without its flaws. And it’s the same with confirmed cases.
Individual counties have their own methods of testing and reporting cases. Counties which have tested rigourously will report more cases than countries which are only testing people who are experiencing significant health problems.
Secondly, not every country is at the same stage of the crisis – Italy, for example, was reporting thousands of cases before the reality sank in for many European nations, which were at the time relatively unaffected by the virus.
Finally, the smallest countries in Europe in terms of population and size tend to have a much higher number of confirmed cases per 100,000 people than larger countries.
Andorra, Luxemburg, San Marino and the Vatican City make up the top four most affected countries using this formula. But these microstates have very small populations and are situated between or surrounded by other countries with a large number of COVID-19 cases. Built up areas also tend to have much more cases – big cities are more generally affected than rural areas.
While bearing all of this in mind, let’s see where we stand in comparison to other regions and countries.
The Republic now has 8,928 cases and an estimated population of just over 4.9 million.
That means that the state has 180 cases per 100,000 population.
The table below lists a selection of countries, cities and regions and the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people, using the latest data available.