Another unanticipated consequence of the COVID-19 lockdown – with a silver lining

Major metropolitan hospitals are reporting a 25-40% drop in road trauma, assaults and sports injuries. Even more pleasing, with pubs closed alcohol-linked violence and injury have plummeted!

Infectious disease presentations have also fallen sharply, with dropping rates of influenza, rotaviruses, and other infections meaning fewer hospital attendances.

A question arises regarding the reduction in presentations for strokes, heart attacks, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations. Has there been a real reduction in the incidence of these things because people were at home (and there were not inflammatory or infective triggers for these)? Or is it a problem, where people didn’t attend hospital when they should have?

The latter theory may be backed up by surveys showing that general practices are overall down 30% in revenue (despite telehealth). Also by data showing that 30% and 40% of private and community pathology testing was currently not being done due to people not visiting their medical practitioner and not having their pathology samples collected.

Will there be a surge of serious medical issues once the lockdown eases, as patients who may have put off treatment return to the healthcare system? Time will tell.

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Dr Lachlan Soper