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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.

 

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).

 

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: Updated 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

 

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 22nd 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 17 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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