Covid-19: Majority of coronavirus deaths are male, figures show

Irish men are dying at a significantly higher rate from the novel coronavirus Covid-19 than females, it has emerged.

Some 66% of the 174 deaths recorded to date have been male, with 60 female deaths, Ireland’s chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, said.

A further 16 deaths were reported at the latest Department of Health briefing on the virus tonight, with an additional 370 new confirmed cases, bringing the total number of infections to 5,364. The median age of all deaths to date is 81.

Roughly a quarter of those infected to date are healthcare workers, with 68% of that figure female. Some 417, or 33% of those workers are nurses, while 213 are doctors.

Meanwhile, 260 clusters have been identified to date involving 989 cases. The primary sources of those clusters are nursing homes and hospitals.

Of the deaths to date 132, just over three quarters, have occurred in a hospital, with 28 of those in an intensive care setting.

Of the 4,916 cases recorded by midnight last Saturday, 169 had been admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU). The main threat regarding the virus is that a surge of patients could overwhelm Ireland’s low levels of ICU beds, which the HSE has said has been expanded to more than 500 from its previous level of less than 250.

At least 25 of those admitted to ICU to date have since been discharged.

“We’ve seen progress on a daily basis now for 10 days or more in terms of flattening the curve. We think we’re pushing out the wave of infection,” Dr Holohan said, adding that the full lockdown restrictions, in place until Easter Sunday, will be reviewed at the National Public Health Emergency Team meeting this coming Friday.

He said that “obviously we are hopeful” given the number of deaths has remained relatively static in recent days.

Yesterday’s total of 16 follows 21 on Sunday, 17 on Saturday, and 22 on Friday.

“I’m not going to say that we would be surprised,” he said, regarding the possibility of a surge in deaths eventuating in the near term.

Obviously we don’t want to see any more deaths, but our expectation is that we will continue to see deaths.

“The question will be how much further is it going to rise, and over what time period,” he said.

He urged people to “stick with the tough measures” which have been imposed upon them over the coming Easter bank holiday, despite the “appealing” weather which is forecast.

Regarding the disparity between male and female deaths, despite the fact that a majority of confirmed infections to date have been female, Dr Ronan Glynn, the deputy chief medical officer, said that such results have been generally reflected worldwide and in the case of other coronaviruses.

He said those results could be attributable to differences in lifestyle and behaviour, such as the fact that men are more likely to smoke, and to touch their face while doing so.

Dr Holohan added that, according to research conducted by the Department of Health, 25% of people have seen their relationships with their children improve as a result of the societal restrictions in place.

He added that the rate of panic-buying has decreased from 43% in mid-March to 20% now, while 86% of people asked said they believe the restrictions in place are “about right”.