Two months ago, health officials in China published the biggest study of Covid-19 cases.

Data from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention examined the virus and patterns of infection.

It gave detailed information about fatalities and confirmed that the sick and elderly were most at risk.

Given what we know about the virus regarding its impact on older generations, it may seem like an obvious finding.

However, in mid-February when the study was published, Covid-19 was in its infancy in Europe. 

Italy was just starting to grapple with an outbreak in the north of the country. 

Covid-19 had barely made a ripple in Spain, where the subsequent impact has been immense and grim.

At the end of March, soldiers disinfecting residential homes found a number of elderly people abandoned and dead in their beds.

In the last 24 hours, Montreal became the latest example of how the coronavirus is hitting Canada's long-term care homes.

Elderly residents were left soiled and unfed after their caregivers fled the premises following 31 deaths in the space of a few weeks.

It is clear that care homes internationally have been overwhelmed and Ireland is not alone in the number of deaths in these settings.

The International Long Term Care Policy Network looked at the percentage of care home deaths in European countries, including Ireland. 

On 12 April, deaths in residential settings accounted for 54%. While we had fewer deaths than Spain (57%) we had experienced more deaths in these settings than Italy (53%).

France and Belgium had a lower percentage of care home deaths than Ireland at 44.6% and 42% respectively.

It is worth noting, however, that nursing homes and care homes have been impacted in countries viewed as tackling the virus successfully. 

There have been nine deaths in New Zealand which went into lockdown on 25 March, but six of those deaths were residents of one rest home.

Closer to home, in the UK this week, official statistics showed that hundreds more people with Covid-19 have died than were recorded in the government's daily tally.

The London School of Economics has described reporting in England as "inadequate and likely to give false assurance that numbers are significantly lower than the reality".

The World Health Organization has said there is no benefit in comparing countries. 

Its senior emergency officer Catherine Smallwood pointed out in early April that there are differences on how countries are collecting data from patients. 

She said there may be hidden limitations and differences between the data around deaths and didn’t encourage country comparisons. 

Despite that, it is clear that Ireland is not alone in tackling a pandemic that seeks to challenge and threaten our most vulnerable.