COVID halted Aust injury hospitalisations

About 20,000 fewer Australians were admitted to hospital with injuries during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic as restrictions curbed movement, according to new data.

A report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows injury-related hospitalisations fell 14.3 per cent between March and May 2020, compared with the previous year.

In total, there were 120,850 injury hospitalisations in Australia over the three-month span amid nationwide lockdowns – 20,090 fewer than the corresponding period in 2019.

“The arrival of COVID-19 in early 2020 dramatically disrupted our lives,” reads the AIHW report, published on Thursday.

“Across most of Australia, daily routines and activities were restricted and the places we could go were limited. As a result, the type of injury risks we were exposed to changed.”

The number of injuries caused by drownings (35.3 per cent), electricity and air pressure (33.8 per cent), contact with living things (28.2 per cent), forces of nature (46 per cent) including natural disasters and overexertion (30.1 per cent) fell sharply.

As did injury types such as fractures (16.2 per cent), dislocations (21.8 per cent), soft tissue (22.7 per cent) and intracranial (23.1 per cent), as people spent more time at home.

In addition, COVID-19 restrictions changed the locations of injuries, with fewer instances of people hurt at schools (49.6 per cent), sporting areas (72.7 per cent) and industrial or construction sites (12.7 per cent).

Home injuries expectedly grew by 8.5 per cent over the same span, or 3350 cases.

Overall, 527,000 hospitalisations and 13,400 deaths from injuries were recorded across Australia during 2019/20, with men accounting for 55 per cent of the former and 62 per cent of the latter.

“Most injuries, whether accidental or intentional, are preventable, yet they remain a major cause of hospitalisation and death in Australia,” AIHW spokesperson Dr Adrian Webster said.

The AIHW injury report does not cover emergency department presentations where a patient was treated without admission to hospital.

More than 31,000 COVID-19 cases and 57 deaths were reported in Australia on Wednesday, while about 2900 people remain in hospital across the country with the virus.


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