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RaISe publications on COVID-19

Synopsis: The Assembly Research and Information Service (RaISe) has produced the following articles and research publications in response to the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Coronavirus image


Visualisation of COVID-19 in Northern Ireland

This is a visualisation prepared and maintained by the Northern Ireland Assembly Research and Information Service (RaISe). It presents the spread of COVID-19 infection and the number deaths where COVID-19 was present throughout Northern Ireland. This is set within the context of infections and number of deaths occurring across the world and specifically in England, Scotland and Wales.  This visualisation is based on figures and analysis published by the Public Health Agency & Public Health England & the World Health Organisation and will be updated by RaISe on a daily basis (Mon-Fri).
Research Matters blog article: This article is updated daily (Monday - Friday).

 

 

Is it possible to socially distance on our beaches?

With many international travel restrictions still in place, more people than ever will be opting for 'staycations' in Northern Ireland. This article provides the results of a spatial analysis looking at whether social distancing is possible on some of our most popular beaches.
Research Matters blog article: Published on 15th July 2020

 

 

COVID-19 and school shutdowns: Examining the after-effects

In an effort to minimise the spread of the virus SARS-CoV-2 (which causes the disease COVID-19), schools in Northern Ireland closed their doors to normal school life on 23 March 2020.  Schools have faced an unprecedented situation and the transition of the entire school system to a remote learning model in such a short space of time has been remarkable but not without its challenges for everyone involved.
While everyone involved in the education community is experiencing the same storm, is everyone in the same boat? This article examines what we know so far of the challenges faced by pupils and parents during the lockdown and poses some questions about the after-effects for education in Northern Ireland.
Research Matters blog article: Published on 6th July 2020

 

 

'Exit’ from COVID-19 lockdown: Social distancing and face coverings to minimise the spread of the virus

The RaISe research paper 'Exit' from COVID-19 'lockdown': Health-related issues (20 May 2020) contained sections on transmission of the virus SARS-CoV-2 and two of the key issues – social/physical distancing from other people and the use of face coverings. This article updates these areas, looking at the guidance in place, the science behind it and the impact on the 'exit from lockdown'.
Research Matters blog article: Published on 1st July 2020 (updated 3rd July)

 

 

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Health and Social Care Workforce

This paper has been produced to support the COVID-19 Ad Hoc Committee and the Health Committee with their scrutiny of the pandemic response. The paper will focus on the psychological wellbeing of health and social care staff who have been working on the frontline throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It will look to evidence from previous pandemics to identify potential risk factors for adverse mental health outcomes and examine emerging local and international evidence from the current crisis. The paper will also explore how decision makers can support the mental health of their workforce as well as interventions being introduced across the UK to assist staff in managing their wellbeing.
Research Publication: Published on 25th June 2020

 

Fiscal ball gazing: How could the COVID-19 crisis affect NI’s public finances?

Governments around the world have undertaken very significant, and hugely costly, actions attempting to prop up businesses and employment through the course of the pandemic. The UK Government is no exception, with a wide variety of schemes to support businesses and protect employees' jobs and incomes.

The Executive, through the provision of rates reliefs and other measures, has supplemented these in Northern Ireland (NI). This blog article considers how COVID-19's accompanying economic contagion may infect NI's public finances. To explain how this might happen, it first addresses devolved public financial arrangements, before reviewing available evidence on what the future might hold.
Research Matters blog article: Published on 22nd June 2020

 

The impact of COVID-19 on Northern Ireland

This new visualisation based on figures and analysis published in the public domain by Ulster Bank, Danske Bank, NISRA, PSNI and Google Mobility Reports, looks at the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Northern Ireland.  It looks at a range of issues such as the private economy, consumer confidence, the claimant count, crime statistics and data from Google Mobility reports to map out the changing picture for Northern Ireland.

Figures will be updated on a monthly basis, excluding public holidays, as new data becomes available.
Research Matters blog article: Published 18th June 2020 (updated monthly)

 

 

Constituency Casework Guide - COVID-19: Housing Support

The purpose of this constituency guide is to signpost MLAs and their constituency staff to key information and resources on housing, and to provide answers to some of the frequently asked questions on housing repairs, repossessions, evictions, student housing, gas safety etc. The final section of the paper provides links to independent advice lines and other useful resources. Research Publication: Updated on 18th  June 2020

 

 

‘Exit’ from COVID-19 lockdown: Use of testing and contact tracing

This article stems from RaISe paper ‘‘Exit’ From COVID-19 ‘lockdown’: Health-related issues’ (20 May 2020) and focuses on (and updates) the use of widespread testing and contact tracing as part of the solution to exiting ‘lockdown’.
Research Matters blog article: Published on 5th June 2020

 


How can our culture sector ever recover from COVID-19?

This article examines some of the risks which COVID-19 has posed to the culture and heritage sectors in Northern Ireland, and assesses whether the support measures put in place by the Northern Ireland Executive and its arms-length bodies match up to the interventions employed in other countries.
Research Matters blog article: Published on 29th May 2020

 


The Use of Digital Measures to Combat COVID-19

This paper has been produced to support the COVID-19 Ad Hoc Committee and the Health Committee with their scrutiny of the pandemic response. The purpose of this paper is to provide information for the Health Committee on the use of digital measures aimed at combating the novel coronavirus COVID-19, specifically contact tracing apps and the use of 'big data'. The paper will examine the current and potential uses of both types of measures at various stages of the pandemic as well as the technical and ethical challenges that they present. The focus of this paper will be on the use of these measures in a European and UK context with reference to international experiences where appropriate.
Research Publication: Published on 26th May 2020

 


'Exit' From COVID-19 'Lockdown': Health-Related Issues

This paper has been produced to support the COVID-19 Ad Hoc Committee and the Health Committee with their scrutiny of the pandemic response.  It discusses a number of factors relating to the spread of infectious disease to be borne in mind when considering measures to control the virus going forward. This includes the impact of infectious dose, viral load and asymptomatic cases and the relationship between the ‘lockdown’ and the ‘R’ number of the virus. It then goes on to review a range of health-related measures and actions related to easing the ‘lockdown’. 
Research Publication: Published on 20th May 2020

 


Ten reasons to be cautious about using R to support decision-making during the COVID-19 pandemic

The ‘R number’ that most of us non-epidemiologists had never heard of before appears to be driving government policies everywhere and determining how we lead our lives. R is defined as the average number of secondary infections produced by a single infectious individual. In the simplest of terms, if R is above 1 (i.e. an infectious person is, on average, passing the infection on to more than one other person) then the outbreak is expected to continue and to spread exponentially. If, however, it can be kept below 1 the outbreak will be kept under control and will eventually die out. It is important to be aware, however, that the accuracy or otherwise of estimates of R will depend on the assumptions made, which may be erroneous, the quality of the data, which may be poor, and the epidemiological model used, of which there are many.

This article examines some of the caveats which apply to the use of R; it is a summary of a longer paper we have just published: When ‘R’ we going to get back to high fives, hugging strangers and kissing the Blarney Stone?
Research Matters blog article: Published on 19th May 2020

 


When 'R' we going to get back to high fives, hugging strangers and kissing the Blarney Stone?

The UK Government and the devolved Governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have recently announced their plans for gradually lifting the lockdown restrictions that were introduced to bring the spread of the COVID-19 disease under control. These plans have been informed by the latest scientific advice and, in particular, the ‘all important’ R number. This briefing note describes the epidemiological concept ‘R’, and examines its usefulness and limitations as a compass for guiding us through the mists of this plague.
Research Publication: Published on 19th May 2020

 


COVID-19 and Brexit: A reading list (updated)

Brexit and the negotiations during the current transition period may have slipped from the top of the news agenda, but commentators are already beginning to consider the likely impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union. Some of their outputs are provided in this short reading list, which also includes some analysis of how existing preparations for Brexit may have played into efforts to combat the outbreak. An earlier version of this reading list was published on 16 April 2020.
Research Matters blog article: Published on 19th May 2020

 


COVID-19 and planning measures

This article explores the temporary planning measures introduced as a response to COVID-19 across the UK and Republic of Ireland (ROI). Some of these measures have, and will, require urgent legislative change, while other aspects are about the recommended adoption of more innovative and flexible approaches.
Research Matters blog article: Published on 18th May 2020

 


COVID-19: How is testing and contact tracing being used in Northern Ireland and beyond? 

This article is based on information extracted from the RaISe briefing paper: Testing for Sars-CoV-2 in the UK; and the Use of Testing and Contact Tracing in Selected Countries (published 4 May 2020).  For wider context, this article is best read in conjunction with that paper, which focused on reviewing the approaches to testing, contact tracing and related measures taken in NI, as part of the UK pandemic response. It also looked at a number of  selected countries which have taken a range of different approaches in this regard. The paper highlighted the importance of both timely testing and contact tracing to drive suppression of transmission of the virus to a low-level, to enable or maintain parts of economic and social life.
Research Matters blog article: Published on 7th May 2020

 


Comparative analysis of Covid-19 statistics

This Briefing Note examines a number of issues concerning comparisons of surveillance data on COVID-19 across different countries and regions.  In terms of the pandemic, the note also identifies three models of good practice and presents some meta data from selected countries.
Research Publication: Published on 7th May 2020

 

 
How will COVID-19 change our travel behaviour?

Transport policy has traditionally focused on changing the way people travel i.e. moving them from cars to public transport to ease congestion and improve the environment amid ever-increasing demand. But what if demand falls?  As we anticipate emerging from this unprecedented lockdown and can move more freely within society, the overwhelming question seems to be when will things get back to normal? From a mobility point of view, they may not. It will take time for trends to form but there are indications that home working, avoidance of public transport and increased active travel could become the ‘new normal’. Accommodating these changes will require a significant rethink when it comes to transport policy.
Research Matters blog article: Published on 7th May 2020

 


COVID-19 and farming – A bitter harvest?

2020 was already set to be a challenging year for farmers across the UK. Having finally reached an agreed Withdrawal Agreement with the EU, the UK is set to formally leave the EU at the end of the current transitional period in December 2020.  As a result of this decision, the UK and each of the devolved administrations were facing major changes in terms of how they would be supporting farmers outside the current Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) framework. There were concerns amongst some local stakeholders around the impacts that such moves would have on the nature and viability of agriculture here.  This article explores how the COVID-19 pandemic has made an already challenging year even more challenging.
Research Matters blog article: Published on 6th May 2020

 


COVID-19: Testing for Sars-CoV-2 in the UK; and the Use of Testing and Contact Tracing in Selected Countries

This briefing paper has been prepared to assist the Health Committee and COVID-19 Committee with their scrutiny of the COVID-19 testing strategies in the UK to date by reviewing testing in the UK and in a selection of other countries. The paper highlights the importance of both timely testing and contact tracing (manual tracing and ICT developments) to drive suppression of transmission of the virus to a low-level, to enable or maintain parts of economic and social life.
Research Publication: Published on 4th May 2020

 


Sources of guidance and support on the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19)

In order to provide support to Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), the Research and Information Service (RaISe) has produced this round-up of trusted, authoritative sources providing guidance and support relating to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We will do our best to keep this information updated on a regular basis.
Research Matters blog article: This article was last updated on 27 April 2020.

 


Where are we on the COVID-19 curve? (Update at 16 April 2020)

This is a follow-up to the recent blog article, ‘Where are we on the COVID-19 curve?. The previous article used three day averages for COVID-19 deaths to compare the positions of the UK and Ireland with those of Spain, Italy, France and Germany. This article provides an update on that and also includes Northern Ireland. The three day averages have been replaced with five day moving averages to iron out fluctuations arising from reporting delays and to allow a daily update in the RaISe blog article, Visualisation of COVID-19 in Northern Ireland.
Research Matters blog article: This article was last updated on 16 April 2020.

 


Where are we on the COVID-19 curve?

Most of us by now understand the need to 'flatten the curve' in order to reduce the number of overall cases of COVID-19 and to keep the peak of infections below the threshold of the capacity of the NHS. Staying at home, social distancing and lots of hand washing will undoubtedly help to achieve that and save lives. But staying at home and social distancing are such difficult things to do and we don't yet have any idea of how much longer we will have to continue to do that, because we don't know where we are on the curve. This article attempts to answer the question of where we are on the curve, and looks at some of the problems that the statisticians are wrestling with at the moment.
Research Matters blog article: This article was last updated on 10 April 2020.

 


COVID-19: Background, Public Health Measures and Testing for SARS-CoV-2 

This Briefing Paper has been prepared to support the NI Assembly Ad-Hoc COVID-19 Committee.  It provides some introductory background information on COVID-19 and then focuses on the policies and actions taken in the UK and other selected countries regarding tackling the pandemic, focusing on public health measures and testing of individuals.
Research Publication: Published on 2nd April 2020

 


COVID-19: The use of Personal Protective Equipment and Ventilators 

This Briefing Paper has been prepared to support the NI Assembly Ad-Hoc COVID-19 Committee. It provides information on the role of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) in infection control measures including an overview of current guidelines relating to their use. The paper will also look at the use of ventilators in supportive therapies to treat COVID-19 patients.  Lastly, the paper will explore how shortages of PPE and Ventilators are a major global issue of the ongoing pandemic and will examine actions taken by the UK government to increase supplies in the face of these shortages.
Research Publication: Published on 2nd April 2020

 


What is the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) 

The recent international coronavirus outbreak originated in the city of Wuhan, China and has received vast media attention due to its rapid transmission and the number of associated deaths. This blog article aims to provide an overview on what is currently known about the virus, the state of affairs globally and the measures in place for Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. Because this is an ongoing and evolving situation, there are many unknowns and new information is emerging daily.
Research Matters blog article: This article was last updated on 4th March 2020

 

   

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