Monitoring and reporting deaths related to COVID-19 in Ireland: up to 54% of deaths due to COVID-19 were nursing home residents

By Maria Pierce, Independent Research and Adjunct Faculty Member, Dublin City University

11th April, 2020

(this post is an updated version of:

In Ireland, epidemiological data on COVID-19 is collected centrally.  Reports on cases of COVID-19 are prepared by the Epi team at the Health Prevention Surveillance Centre (HPSC) for the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).[1]

The reports are based on data created on Computerised Infectious Disease Reporting (CIDR), an information system developed to manage the surveillance and control of infectious diseases in Ireland. The reports are made available on the HPSC website ( An updated report is released daily. Each report is based on data collected two days previously. Data are provisional. These reports have been issued daily since 22.03.2020

Nursing homes are required to notify the Chief Inspector of Social Services in the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA)[2] of any outbreak of COVID-19 as a notifiable disease. 

The HPSC daily report of cases includes data on the number of clusters/outbreaks of COVID-19 that have been notified. A cluster of COVID-19 is three or more cases of COVID-19 in the same setting within a 72-hour period.  Data on clusters is broken down by location and HSE area. There are different categories for outbreak locations including nursing home; residential institution; and community hospital/long-stay unit. The most recent figures reveal that, to mid-night 05.04.2020, 86 clusters of COVID-19 in nursing homes had been notified, accounting for 31.9% of all clusters in Ireland.[3] The number is up from 4 clusters in nursing homes notified to midnight 21.03.2020. The majority of clusters in nursing homes are in the east of the country, but there is at least one nursing home cluster in every HSE area of the country. There are a further 33 clusters (12.2%) in residential institutions and 16 clusters (5.9%) in community hospitals/long-stay units. 

The following is reported:  

  • Number of deaths,
  • Deaths as a proportion of confirmed cases 
  • Deaths by age group – the vast majority are 65+  

When the number of new deaths is reported each day, the median and mean age of death is given. 

Deaths linked to COVID-19 in nursing homes were reported by NPHET for the first time on the 11th April 2020. Of the 288 COVID-19 deaths in Ireland to that date, 156 (54%) were nursing home residents.  

All deaths related to confirmed COVID-19 cases are included in the official count. As far as I understand it, Ireland includes COVID-19 cases that were confirmed both before and after death, which I believe is different to some other countries.  This last point has been made several times by the Chief Medical Officer at press briefings.   

[1] The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) was established on 27.01.2020 in the Department of Health to oversee and provide national direction, guidance, support and expert advice on the development and implementation of a strategy to contain COVID-19 in Ireland. It is chaired by the Chief Medical Officer,

[2] HIQA is the authority with responsibility for inspecting nursing homes in Ireland


Suggested citation:

Pierce M (2020) Mechanisms to collect data on nursing homes and COVID-19 in Ireland. Article in, International Long-Term Care Policy Network, CPEC-LSE. Available at

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