HIQA publishes international review of lockdown strategies

Date of publication:

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published an international review submitted to the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) on public health measures and strategies to limit the spread of COVID-19.

HIQA found that of the 18 countries included in the review only five countries; Czechia, Ireland, Israel, Portugal and the UK, had seen a reduction in 14-day case numbers per 100,000 population over the previous seven days to 14 March 2021, while all other countries included in the review had seen an increase.

Dr Máirín Ryan, HIQA’s Deputy CEO and Director of Health Technology Assessment, said: “Ireland took a robust approach following the increase in cases in December 2020. Comparing Ireland to other countries in the review, hospitalisations per million population were lower only in Denmark and the Netherlands. Similarly, the numbers in ICU per million population were lower only in Denmark and the UK. Our strategy has been successful to date in limiting the spread of COVID-19 in Ireland but a further reduction in the burden of COVID-19 on our healthcare system will be necessary if the system is to deal with the waiting lists for non-COVID-19 care.”

Many of the countries reviewed have developed and published guidelines and frameworks for living with COVID-19 with some now including plans for the gradual easing of restrictions provided the epidemiological situation allows. All countries with a published risk framework that is applied at a national level are currently operating at the highest risk level. For countries where the framework is applied at a regional level, the majority of regions are at the highest risk level except in Israel. However, the situation is extremely fluid in Europe, where restrictive measures are under constant review.

Dr Ryan continued: “The types of measures that have been applied are generally consistent across the countries we studied, but vary in detail, including the use of night time curfews, the number of people allowed to meet and the opening hours for hospitality businesses.”

All countries included in the report have launched their COVID-19 vaccination programmes, with Israel having the largest share of its population fully vaccinated (47.5%) followed by Switzerland (4.3%) and Denmark (4.2%). In Ireland 3.3% of the population were fully vaccinated at 12 March.

HIQA will continue to monitor public health measures and strategies and update this international review accordingly.

You can find the review here.

Further information:
Marty Whelan, Head of Communications & Stakeholder Engagement
01 814 7480/085 805 5202, mwhelan@hiqa.ie

Notes to Editor:

  • HIQA has today published the following document to inform NPHET’s response to COVID-19:
    • Public health measures and strategies to limit the spread of COVID-19: an international review.
  • The review focuses on the national response to COVID-19 in 17 countries that were experiencing a resurgence in COVID-19 cases in October 2020 and which were identified by NPHET as being in a similar phase of pandemic response as Ireland.
    • The countries comprise 12 EU/EEA countries (Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden), the UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) and Switzerland.
    • This update also includes Israel.
  • All information within this international review was correct, as of 12 March 2021.
  • HIQA’s COVID-19 Evidence Synthesis Team produces a variety of outputs including rapid health technology assessments, scoping reports, rapid reviews of public health guidance, and evidence summaries, supplemented by an evidence-to-advice framework to guide the development of advice, where appropriate.