Reporting Scotland tells us deaths double but fails to put this into any perspective

It’s the headline story:

‘The number of coronavirus patients who’ve died in Scotland has doubled from 3 to 6.’

It was then repeated but no context to help viewers put it into any context was forthcoming. Doubling? That sounds bad, really bad. Is it? Is this a high figure? Is it a high ratio? What does it suggest about the ability of NHS Scotland to cope? Information to at least begin to answer these questions is easily found:

In Euronews at 13.44pm yesterday:

‘The United Kingdom has one of the highest coronavirus death rates in the world, latest data reveals. It has reported 104 deaths and 2,626 total cases of COVID-19 up to 17 March, meaning a fatality rate of around 40 per 1,000 infections – similar to China’s. When compared to all countries that have reported more than 1,000 cases, it is the third highest in Europe and the fifth highest overall.’

At the same time, the NHS Scotland fatality rate was only 13 per 1 000 infections, less than a third of the UK rate.

However, the Scottish rate, today, has risen to 6 in 266 cases or 22 per 1 000 infections, just over half the UK figure. The UK rate has climbed slightly to 41 per 1 000 today.

To report none of this is to put Reporting Scotland in a position of being accused of scaremongering.

21 thoughts on “Reporting Scotland tells us deaths double but fails to put this into any perspective

  1. The death rate may appear high because not all the positive cases have been properly identified through a programme of wide, community based testing. The other day the guesstimate figure was 55,000 or so cases. What does that do to the death rate?

    The only certain knowledge the UK has is the number of people infected by the virus who have died and the increase in that number in a day. In Scotland it has doubled since yesterday but is still at a low number and there have been days with no deaths. Over the next few days a close eye will be kept on the numbers dying. If it continues to double or increase by more than that then that will indicate a serious step change in the transmission of the virus.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was just saying something similar on the previous article – we can’t know the actual ratio when we don’t know the actual number of people infected.

      The number of deaths don’t actually tell us anything about transmission of the virus, though. If only people in hospital are being tested, then they are already fairly ill or have complications and are more likely to become critically ill, it’s the overall numbers that are tested positive that count for that. I really think we need to wait for real statistics, and maybe hear more about those that are recovering and actual symptoms than about the numbers that have died.


  2. John

    You might be interested in following the Twitter accounts of Professor Allysson Pollock and Dr Phillipa Whitford. Because of the relatively high profile of these two women there are a variety of interesting posts. Fionna O’Leary tells us, for example, that the UK government in 2016 carried out a simulation exercise of the kind of pandemic we have now. It was evident then that the government needed to increase considerably the number of ventilators to deal with the crisis.

    ““Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy”…
    “Health and Social Care Influenza Pandemic Preparedness & Response”…
    “Pandemic Influenza Response Plan”…
    All 3 tested & failed-not revised”


  3. John

    I might add that for the last 7 days I have had the symptoms of a coronavirus infection. I do not know whether I have covid 19 or a cold or flu virus. Fortunately,neither my wife or I have been badly affected.I am glad my lungs have not been affected.That could have been serious whatever the source of infection -bad lungs since childhood.I am in the “most at risk” category.


  4. Reporting Scotland really has become a lame duck , they need to get someone with a firm grasp of stats to give an informed and balanced framing of “data” instead of trawling through official statements for numbers with which to confuse the audience . Brian” toddleoo noo ” Taylor and his journalist chums are another source of trivialized news/noise . It’s said that news is the first draft of history . We might be better to rake through the waste paper baskets or spikes in BBCS Pacific Quay to see what they threw away before broadcasting..

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It is going to be very difficult to assertian ratios of infection, and % of deaths without widespread testing.
    Given the internet and wide use of it, could ScotGov not set up an online poll, if it can be secure as possible, so that people can report if they have symptoms? Maybe that would be too insecure and open to abuse though?

    I too have been unwel, and had very slight breathlessness and weird intermittent cough since Monday, so self isolating. Now feel unwell and weak mostly, and my temperature is fluctuating and was really quite high a few hours ago.
    Taking paracetemol for headaches, could just have a cold type of bug, but it could also be a mild case of the Covid-19. Staying indoors for the next week or so, just hope if it the virus that it just subsides over coming days rather than get worse. Lemon in water seems to help, and trying to boost immune system with vitamins.

    Definitely if we can stop the spread of this virus from getting so out of hand, it will be much easier to manage serious cases.


    1. Hetty, you could phone your doctors surgery just to make sure you are doing all the right things – it sounds like it, but they are also collecting data, just survey information because there isn’t testing for the general population yet, but it means they have a record of your symptoms too. A chat on the phone even with a receptionist could put your mind at rest, and even a phone call appointment will take the doctor a lot less time than a real one would – but the receptionist will tell you if you need to speak to a doctor, they are usually very well trained. You won’t be putting anyone out I promise you, and they’ll be delighted you didn’t turn up at the surgery 😉


  6. John

    Sorry about the links. I searched and found this link. A planning exercise was done in 2011 and updated in 2014.I have not yet read any of the reports -may do so the marra.

    I have a few aches and pains in the muscles but no pain or congestion of the lungs. Thanks for your concern. Orra best.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sadly, another media source, i.e. Source Code from Common Weal, has a huge ommission from its report about tenants falling behind on rent payments. They mention Boris halting evictions for three months but don’t seem to realise that is already the case in Scotland, where it has been extended to six months:

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think I heard the FM mention it but Aileen Campbell, Secretary for Communities and Local Governement, stated it in the Scottish Parliament on the 18th March, “The temporary change that we will make goes further and will increase that rent arrears period from the current three months to six months. ” It’s in the Parliament’s Official Report, 18th March, under Covid-19, Supporting Our Comunities’.


  8. Found it! In a reply to Patrick Harvie, Nicola Sturgeon said this at FM Questions yesterday (19th March),
    “To put it in context—it is not my intention to be political, or to criticise the United Kingdom Government, I only want to give context to what I am saying—the Prime Minister set out emergency legislation so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three month period. We do not need to do that in Scotland, because that is what our current law says. That is why Aileen Campbell set out that we will extend the existing provision to six months.”


    1. Tom Clark on Twitter @prospect_clark tweets about ventilators.

      “An established British ventilator manufacturer on Newsnight saying:

      – no extra orders in yet

      – if orders come now, they won’t arrive for quite a long while”

      Nick Tolhurst tweets: “Your reminder that the UK govt is STILL refusing to participate in the daily EU health minister conference call (which even non EU Switzerland are joining) to help share information & best coordination on Coronavirus….

      …because…”it’s European”.

      Jennifer Rankin @jennifer merode tweets: 2UK can take part in an EU scheme to buy ventilators, European commission says.”

      So far UK won’t join… because…


    2. Ben Wray, this time in Bella Caledonia (‘Getting Organised’), is still talking about evictions, despite the Scottish Government’s legislation guaranteeing no evictions for six months:

      “6. Can’t pay won’t pay – get ready to resist
      We have to be prepared for government not doing the things we need them to do. Let’s face it, they’ve made a right pigs-ear of it so far. If the government allow landlords to keep collecting rent and evicting people, we won’t pay and we won’t allow it to happen, because we can’t. A national rent strike may become essential – good luck trying to evict us when we’re all at home and in a pandemic. Even debts and taxes need to be part of the discussion – if we can’t pay, then we won’t pay. Even in a lockdown situation, it is possible to resist.”


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