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28.01.2021 | short report

COVID-19 lock-down significantly reduced number of surgical presentations in an emergency department

Wiener klinische Wochenschrift
M.D. René Fahrner, Stefan Bähler, M.D. Gregor Lindner
Wichtige Hinweise

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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an acute virus infection, which was declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a pandemic. As a consequence, the Swiss government decreed a public lock-down to reduce and restrict further infections. The aim of this investigation was to provide the impact of the COVID-19 lock-down on the presentations of patients in an interdisciplinary emergency department (ED).

Patients, material and methods

A retrospective study was performed at an interdisciplinary Swiss ED during the lock-down period. All patients who presented to the ED were enrolled in this investigation and compared to a control cohort during the same time period in 2019. Data regarding patients’ characteristics, medical specialty, time course of presentations during the observation period, outpatient or hospital admission were analyzed.


In total 7072 patients were included in the final analysis. During the lock-down period the number of ED presentations significantly decreased by 29% in comparison to the control period in the previous year (p < 0.0001). The analysis of the time course revealed that in each week the number of patients was lower with 13–43% reduction. Irrespective of the medical specialty, the number of presentations decreased during the COVID-19 situation, whereas this decrease was higher in surgical diseases (31%, p < 0.0001) than in non-surgical presentations (3.6%, p = 0.4).


The socioeconomic lock-down was associated with reduced number of presentations in an ED. Mainly, surgical diseases and injuries were affected in terms of a reduction of presentations during the COVID-19 lock-down period.

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