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Why are Mayo Covid deaths so high?


Questions as to why county has second-highest death rate in Ireland

Anton McNulty

A CALL has been made for an investigation into Co Mayo’s Covid-19 death rate, which is the second highest per 100,000 in the country.
The latest Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures for Covid-19 deaths in Ireland show that up to February 19 there have been 152 deaths in Mayo – the fifth highest number in the county.
However, the death rate per 100,000 population in Mayo is 116.47. Only Co Cavan, with 120.77 deaths per 100,000, records a higher rate.
Monaghan is third highest at 112.4, while Dublin has a death per 100,000 rate of 107.77, putting it fifth. Sligo has the lowest death rate per 100,000, at 25.94.
Independent councillor Michael Kilcoyne said the high number of deaths for a rural county is disappointing. He believes the public has a right to know why this has happened.
“That is very disappointing, and it is hard to know the reason for it. We are a rural county, and it is hard to understand how the numbers per 100,000 could be higher than in Dublin or Cork or Galway.
“At the end of it all, people are entitled to know why it is so bad in Mayo … We are a rural county out in the open spaces and yet the numbers are higher than in cities. It is sad,” Cllr Kilcoyne told yesterday’s monthly meeting of Mayo County Council.
Mayo has also experienced significantly higher deaths compared to the other counties in Connacht, with 95 deaths recorded in Galway; 44 in Roscommon; 17 in Sligo and 12 in Leitrim.
The third wave of the coronavirus accounted for up to 100 deaths in Mayo, with the CSO figures showing that 62 deaths were in January alone. The first wave of the coronavirus, which started 12 months ago, claimed the lives of 42 people in Mayo. Up until December 11, only 52 Covid-related deaths had occurred in the county.

While the number of Covid-19 cases in Mayo has fallen in recent weeks, the public is being asked to redouble their efforts to ensure cases do not rise again.
Speaking at the council meeting, the Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Cllr Richard Finn, said that the declining number of cases and the increased rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines appeared to offer some light at the end of the tunnel.
He added that while there is public frustration over the continued restrictions, he asked people to be patient, urging them not to engage in protests or blame games.
“Naturally enough here is a lot of frustration out there with people’s lives turned upside down. Everything is on a go-slow and not as things were – but one thing, if we don’t continue to follow the regulations none of us will be safe. A lot of work has been done, and we cannot become complacent.
“The blame game won’t help anyone, and cheap publicity won’t bring back our loved ones and dearly departed. Protests and fake news is not the answer. The answer is in each and every one of us being responsible and taking our responsibilities seriously.
“We must support the HSE and our health care workers and the families of the victims. Each councillor knows someone who has been affected by the pandemic over the last year. I know you cannot help everyone but it is important that everyone helps someone, and as long as we keep the positive attitude we will see the end of this pandemic sooner rather than later.”

Roadmap needed
Active Chief Executive Peter Duggan told the meeting that the council’s community helpline is still available. He also urged people to stick with the health advise.
“The numbers are still relatively high, and we must adhere to the public health advice in helping to drive the numbers down further. It is important we stick to the guidelines regarding face coverings, social distancing and remain at home unless absolutely necessary. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and I would urge people to stick with it that little bit longer until we get to the end of this pandemic,” he said.
The vast majority of over 85 year olds in Mayo have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine from GPs across the county. The roll-out of the vaccine to different groups is set to continue in the county, and Fianna Fáil councillor Damien Ryan said he hoped a roadmap will be soon published for the opening up of society.
“We are in the tunnel, and in a few short weeks we will be able to show a significant improvement on the roll-out of the vaccine. I think this summer will be bright, and it will give people hope and positivity.
“I think there is an opportunity for the Government to publish a roadmap to reopening because people do need that positivity,” he said.