A cyclist passes a bus stop with a public health warning on COVID-19 in Dublin, Ireland.

New Zealand, Ireland COVID-19 comparison statistics are not 100 per cent accurate

AAP FactCheck April 29, 2020

The Statement

A social media post has compared the coronavirus statistics of Ireland and New Zealand in a bid to measure their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The April 20 Facebook post features an image of a waterfall, with several figures overlaid in text. The text reads, “NOT an overreaction”, and compares the population figures of New Zealand (4.8 billion) and Ireland (4.9 million). It also says, “First reported cases: NZ 28th March, Ireland 29th March”, followed by “As at 18th April 2020, NZ: 1094 confirmed cases, 11 deaths” and “Ireland: 14,758 confirmed cases, 571 deaths”. It ends with the words “NOT a political game Do it right New Zealand!”

The post has been viewed more than 30,000 times and generated more than 220 shares.

A Facebook post from April 20
 A Facebook post compares the coronavirus statistics of Ireland and New Zealand. 

The Analysis

As the world reels from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, both Ireland and New Zealand have implemented lockdown measures to mitigate the virus and its effects.

As of April 28, Ireland had recorded 19,877 COVID-19 cases with 1,159 deaths, according to its Department of Health. New Zealand’s official figures show 1,472 confirmed and probable cases with 19 deaths as of the same date.

The Facebook post provides a number of statistics, starting with population figures which are roughly accurate. The estimated population of New Zealand is 4.95 million as of December 2019, according to Statistics New Zealand, compared to the post’s figure of “4.8 million”. Ireland’s Central Statistics Office lists the Emerald Isle’s 2019 population as 4.92 million, matching the post’s “4.9 million”.

The post’s claim that New Zealand’s first COVID-19 case was reported on March 28 is incorrect. AAP FactCheck found that according to New Zealand’s Ministry of Health, the first reported case was on February 28, “a person in their 60s recently returned from Iran”. Ireland’s first case, which the post dates as March 29, was detected on February 29. The date of February 28 for NZ is also supported by a World Health Organization (WHO) report, while the UN public health body lists March 1 for Ireland’s first COVID-19 case.

According to Ireland’s Department of Health, as of April 18 the COVID-19 death toll in Ireland was 571, with 14,758 confirmed cases while 11 deaths and 1094 cases were recorded in NZ on the same date, WHO data showed. These figures match those provided in the post.

The Verdict

Based on the evidence, AAP Factcheck found the Facebook post to be partly false. While many of the figures in the post are correct, the dates provided for New Zealand and Ireland’s “first reported cases” of COVID-19 are incorrect. Ireland’s first case was on February 29, according to the country’s Department of Health, not March 29 as claimed in the post. New Zealand’s first case was on February 28, according to NZ’s Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization, not March 28 as stated.

Partly False – The claim of the content is a mixture of accurate and inaccurate, or the primary claim is misleading or incomplete.

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