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Virus goes rural –  COVID-19 spreads out from cities to towns
A cyclist passes a COVID-19 mural on Richmond Hill in Rathmines, Dublin 6 Pic: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

02 Jun 2020 / COVID-19 Print

Virus goes rural – outbreak spread from cities to towns

The COVID-19 virus is moving from Irish cities into large towns, according to a Central Statistics Office (CS0) bulletin.

Those living in cities have been worst affected, accounting for more than 50% of all confirmed virus cases.

However, this has been decreasing over the last number of weeks, and those living in cities now represent 44% of cases, according to CSO statistics.


The incidence of COVID-19 is decreasing in all areas.

Deaths have reduced from 270 at the peak to 37 in the most recent week, while cases have reduced from 6,049 to 624.

While the trend in cases is down everywhere since the peak week of 17 April 2020, spikes can be seen in weekly figures for counties Offaly, Westmeath, Longford, Cork, Tipperary, Clare and Limerick, since that date.

The virus has increased in independent urban towns, that is towns without a large ‘city’ influence.

People living in these types of urban towns now account for 12% of cases, up from 5% in the week ending 20 March.


There are also a significant number of counties where there have been fewer than ten deaths since this crisis started.

The CS0 COVID-19 Information Hub reports on the changing state of aspects of Ireland's economy and society since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Standardised death rate

After examining the standardised death rate (SDR), which is the death rate of a population adjusted to a standard age distribution, the CSO found it was highest in least deprived areas. 

By looking at the characteristics of the electoral division where the confirmed cases live, the CSO can derive additional socio-economic information about the affected people and the areas they live in.

The SDR of those in the least deprived areas was calculated at 35 per 100,000 while the SDR for the overall population was 29 per 100,000.

Similarly, with the Standardised Confirmed Incidence Rate (SCIR), which shows the rate of incidence of COVID-19 in a population adjusted to a standard age distribution.

Least deprived areas hit hardest

The figure for those in the least deprived areas was 606 per 100,000 population, while it was 462 per 100,000 population in the most deprived areas, and 532 per 100,000 population in all areas.

The CSO has found that 25% of cases are in areas of lower income, where the household median income is less than €40,000, despite 30% of the population living in these areas. 

Median income

Those living in households where the median income is €60,000 or more accounted for more than 23% of cases, while making up 18% of population.

However, this has changed over the weeks with the number of cases in households with higher incomes falling from 25%, and the incidence of cases in lower-income households rising from 20% of cases in the early weeks.


The data also shows that there has been an increase in the proportions of cases in areas of higher working age welfare dependency as the weeks have progressed, though there has been no increase in cases in areas with a high proportion of people in receipt of a State pension.

Gazette Desk
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