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01.02.2021 | original article | Ausgabe 7-8/2021 Open Access

Wiener klinische Wochenschrift 7-8/2021

The first 8 weeks of the Austrian SARS-CoV-2 epidemic

Zeitschrift:
Wiener klinische Wochenschrift > Ausgabe 7-8/2021
Autoren:
Anna Nagel, Agata Łaszewska, Gerald Haidinger, Judit Simon
Wichtige Hinweise

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Summary

Background

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV‑2) reached Austria in February 2020. This study aims to describe the first 8 weeks of the Austrian epidemic and reflect on the potential mental health consequences as known at that time.

Methods

Data on Austrian Coronavirus Disease 19 (COVID-19) epidemiological indicators and number of tests were obtained from official registers. Relative risks (RRs) of infection and death from COVID-19 were calculated for sex and age groups (< 65 years and ≥ 65 years). Public health measures introduced to reduce the spread of COVID-19 were identified via online media research. A rapid review of initial evidence on mental health consequences of the pandemic was performed in PubMed and medRxiv.

Results

By 21 April 2020 the case count in Austria was 14,810 after a peak of new daily infections mid-March. The RR of death for age ≥ 65 years was 80.07 (95% confidence interval, CI 52.64–121.80; p < 0.0001) compared to those aged < 65 years. In men the RR of death was 1.44 (95% CI 1.20–1.73; p < 0.0001) compared to women. Wide-ranging public health measures included avoidance of case importation, limitation of social contacts, hygiene measures, testing, case tracking, and the call for COVID-19-related research. International rates of psychiatric symptoms during the initial lockdowns exceeded typical levels: anxiety (6%–51%), depression (17%–48%) and posttraumatic stress (5%–54%).

Conclusion

Data show great vulnerability of older people also in Austria. Severe mental health impacts can be expected with need for proper assessment of the long-term consequences of this pandemic.

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