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COVID-19 Fact Checks

What are ‘excess deaths’?

Excess deaths are defined as deaths during a given period that are greater than the usual number of deaths in similar historic time periods. Changes in the number of excess deaths above or below the predicted average may indicate an event, for example a strain of Flu that resulted in more deaths than usual.  For 2020, the most significant event associated with excess deaths is likely to be the COVID-19 outbreak.

Has COVID-19 contributed to excess deaths in Northern Ireland?

What is the StopCOVID NI app?

The StopCOVID NI app is a contact tracing app for Northern Ireland

What is a contact tracing app?

A contact tracing app is a smartphone application that helps people detect if they have been in close contact with someone who has subsequently received a positive test for COVID-19.

How do I download the StopCOVID NI app?

The app is available to download now on your mobile phone from Apple App Store and the Google Play Store:

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.

The Department of Health (DoH) in Northern Ireland have published a document, Coronavirus related health inequalities in Northern Ireland.   

What is the report about?

The report analysed infection rates and hospital admission rates for COVID-19. A number of factors were explored:

UPDATED 30 JUNE 2020

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.    

UPDATED 07 AUGUST 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

UPDATED 26 JUNE 2020

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

UPDATED 13 AUGUST 2020   

Is the Food Parcel scheme still available? 

The Food Parcel Scheme provided by the Department for Communities ended on 31 July 2020. 

Is other help available? 

Until 23 September, the COVID-19 Community Helpline will signpost anyone in need.  You can visit the Advice NI website here, phone the COVID-19 freephone community helpline on 0808 802 0020, email: covid19@adviceni.net or text: ACTION to 81025 to discuss your needs.   

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: 

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