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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.

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.    

UPDATE 03 JULY 2020

On 2 July 2020, the Northern Ireland Executive announced face coverings will become mandatory on public transport from Friday, 10 July.  This means if you are using a bus, train or ferry service in NI you are required by law to wear a face covering, as well as on public transport premises, such as stations.  This rule will not apply to people with relevant medical conditions and children under 13. 

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 22 JUNE 2020   

Some people will need help getting food during COVID-19, this could be for a number of reasons, anyone in need 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.  

UPDATED 08 JULY 2020

The Northern Ireland Executive launched their COVID-19 recovery plan Coronavirus: Our Approach to Decision Making on 12 May 2020.  They continually review COVID-19 restrictions and announce changes in line with what is included in the 5 step plan.     

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

This article was written on 01 May 2020 while NI was in Lockdown.  The information and guidance will change as the NI COVID-19 Recovery Plan is implemented.  For the most up-to-date information go to our article on the recovery plan here or NI Direct 

What is ‘Lockdown’?