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Coronavirus: Early move to lockdown cited for low rate in Derry and Strabane

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Community: Dr Tom Black

Community: Dr Tom Black

Community: Dr Tom Black

The disproportionately low numbers of people who have contracted coronavirus or died from it in the Derry and Strabane council area has been attributed to an early lockdown by a leading doctor.

According to the latest official figures, Derry and Strabane has the second lowest number of deaths (20) and cases (155) despite having the fourth highest population (150,680).

Only in Fermanagh and Omagh, with a population of almost 117,000, have there been fewer deaths (10) or cases (74).

In Newry and Mourne, with a population of 99,480 - the smallest in Northern Ireland - there have been 29 deaths and 237 cases.

While the number of cases in the Causeway Coast and Glens district, where the population is over 144,000, was initially below that of Derry and Strabane, in recent weeks its figures climbed to 29 deaths and 169 cases.

Meanwhile, in Antrim and Newtownabbey, a council area with a population fairly similar to that of Derry and Strabane, the number of people who died from coronavirus is 38 while 335 people test positive.

Similarly in Lisburn and Castlereagh, with a population of 144,381, the number of deaths is 37 while 380 have been diagnosed with the virus.

The chair of the British Medical Association in NI, Derry doctor Dr Tom Black, said: "We probably shut down two weeks earlier than England and that was a huge factor.

"In Derry there was also an incredible community buy-in and it became very clear that nobody was actually paying attention to Boris Johnston, they were paying attention to their neighbours in Donegal.

"There was a feeling in Derry that we have to shut down early to save the old folk in our community and there was a lot of pressure from the community in Derry towards businesses who were still open which resulted in everyone closing down and doing the social distancing, and that worked."

Belfast Telegraph