Ruwan Wijewardene

UNP Deputy Leader Wijewardena mostly wrong on Covid-19 death analysis

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It is said that 10 patients are dying every hour. The rate at which patients are dying is 1.5%. Sri Lanka has become the country that reports the highest death rate in Asia due to COVID-19.

Aruna | August 12, 2021

partly_true

Partly True

Fact Check

The former MP claims that (a) 10 Covid-19 patients die every hour in Sri Lanka, (b) the ratio of Covid-19 death to cases in Sri Lanka is 1.5%, and (c) Sri Lanka reports the highest daily Covid-19 death rate in the Asian region at the time of his statement (i.e., 11 August). 

To evaluate this claim, FactCheck.lk consulted Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health and Our World in Data.  

On claim (a), the daily deaths due to Covid-19 reported by the Epidemiology Unit averaged 87.27 during 1-11 August 2021, peaking at 118 on the 11th. Accordingly, the highest that had been reported, (up to the date of the claim) was an hourly death rate of 4.917, which is much less than the figure claimed by the former MP (Exhibit 1). 

On claim (b), the Covid-19 death rate can be evaluated against reported cases or the total population, and can be evaluated on a daily or cumulative basis. Therefore, there are four possible ways to discuss the death rate, and FactCheck.lk assessed all four of these calculations. The calculations were computed across the countries in the Asian region for countries reporting at least 500 cases per day, based on numbers available at Our World in Data. 

On 11 August, the cumulative death rate against reported cases was 1.6%, which aligns closely with the former MP’s claim of 1.5% (Exhibit 2). 

On claim (c), Sri Lanka has reported the 6th and 8th highest death rates in Asia based on current and cumulative deaths per day on 11 August. Based on current and cumulative reported deaths per million, Sri Lanka ranks 4th and 16th respectively compared to the region. Therefore, Sri Lanka does not have the highest death rate in Asia using any of the four criteria computed above at the time of the former MP’s statement. 

Both claims (a) and (c) made by the former MP, i.e., on the number of Covid-19 deaths every hour, and Sri Lanka having the highest death rate in Asia are incorrect. However, the data closely supports his claim (b) “death rate of 1.5%”, based on the cumulative deaths relative to reported cases. 

Therefore, we classify his statement as PARTLY TRUE. 

**FactCheck.lk’s verdict is based on the most recent information that is publicly accessible. As with every fact check, if new information becomes available, FactCheck.lk will revisit the assessment. 

 

 



Sources

Our World in Data, Coronavirus, Vaccinations, Our World in Data COVID-19 dataset, available at: https://covid.ourworldindata.org/data/owid-covid-data.csv [last accessed 3 September 2021] 

Epidemiology Unit – Ministry of Health, COVID – 19 Daily Situation Report, available at https://www.epid.gov.lk/web/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=225&lang=en [last accessed 7 September 2021] 

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