Death figures reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) at Covid-19 briefings “may be inaccurate”, a Mayo coroner has said.
Mayo coroner and solicitor Patrick O’Connor believes the recorded death figures for the illness “do not have a scientific basis”.
As of last Thursday, a total of 4,820 deaths related to Covid-19 have been recorded in Ireland.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr O’Connor, who is public information officer for the Coroners Society of Ireland says cases where Covid is recorded as the principal cause of death when a person is already terminally ill, raise questions about the accuracy of the method of recording.
“In reality, a lot of people have terminal cancer or multiple other serious co-morbidities. People can die from Covid and or with Covid”. He has said that he thinks numbers that are recorded as Covid deaths may be inaccurate and do not have a scientific basis.
While all Covid-related deaths must be reported to the coroner, Covid-19 deaths do not require inquests because the illness is considered a pneumonia and therefore a natural cause of death.
However, a coroner can direct an inquest into a death based on individual circumstances and where there is a concern in relation to a person who became infected with the illness.
Mr O’Connor has opened two such inquests in Co Mayo into the death of 17-year-old Ballyhaunis student Sally Maaz and 79-year-old John Carolan from Ballina.
Both died after contracting the virus at Mayo University Hospital and these inquests have been adjourned for mention on June 21.
“These two inquests are taking place because of the individual circumstances of each person at the time of their death,” Mr O’Connor said.
“Every death reported to a coroner is examined carefully. Whether an inquest is directed by the coroner is at his or her discretion and depends on the individual circumstances of such a death.”