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COVID-19 Fact Checks

CLAIM: Suicides have increased 200% in the COVID-19 lockdown period.

CONCLUSION: UNSUBSTANTIATED. There are no official statistics or evidence to support the claim that the rates of suicide increased 200% during the period of lockdown (i.e. from 23 March to present).

Tweets claiming that deaths by suicide have increased 200% since lockdown spread on Twitter on 29 June 2020. The tweets, shared across the UK, do not specifically state in which region they are referring to, but in the body of one of the widely shared tweets, it references “Samaritans UK”.

What is the current advice on shielding?

Letters have been sent to all those who are shielding from their GP on behalf of the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Michael McBride.    The letter is summarised below.   If you are shielding and have not received a letter, contact your GP.  The below information was accurate as of 01 July 2020

When can I stop shielding?

After 31 July, if the risk of COVID-19 remains low, you will not have to shield.


This article explains what the social distancing rules are in Northern Ireland including information on new guidance from Northern Ireland Executive on reducing the 2m rule to 1m in certain restricted circumstances.  The below information was accurate as of 30th June 2020.    


On 6 August, the NI Executive announced that the use of face coverings in certain indoor settings will be mandatory from Monday August 10.

A public information campaign called ‘Wear one for Everyone’ was announced to raise awareness of the benefits of face masks/covering


Shielding in Northern Ireland

This article explains what shielding letters are, who should have received them and who sends them.  The information and guidance on shielding is being actively reviewed and will change as the NI COVID-19 Recovery Plan is implemented. 

FactCheckNI have created a LIVE Q&A article on shielding letters which provides information on a range of issues relating to sheilding including accessing food and medication.  It is updated as and when new information becomes available - you can find it here

Some people will need help getting food during COVID-19, this could be for a number of reasons, such as they are shielding, they are unable to get to the shops or that they can't afford food.   Anyone in need can phone the COVID-19 freephone community helpline on 0808 802 0020 or visit the Advice NI website here to get help.  The level of help given will depend on your circumstances: 

Health is devolved in Northern Ireland (NI) which means decisions about health are made by the Government in NI. The Government is called the Northern Ireland Executive (NI Executive).

During the COVID-19 outbreak the NI Executive makes the overall decisions about how we will deal with the crisis.  It works closely with wider UK (England, Scotland and Wales) and Republic of Ireland Governments to look at the best way to use the health system to fight COVID-19 and protect people’s health