Decreasing hospital burden of COVID-19 during the first wave in Regione Lombardia: an emergency measures context
Abstract: Background: The aim of this study is to quantify the hospital burden of COVID-19 during the first wave and how it changed over calendar time; to interpret the results in light of the emergency measures introduced to manage the strain on secondary healthcare. Methods: This is a cohort study of hospitalised confirmed cases of COVID-19 admitted from February–June 2020 and followed up till 17th July 2020, analysed using a mixture multi-state model. All hospital patients with confirmed COVID-19 disease in Regione Lombardia were involved, admitted from February–June 2020, with non-missing hospital of admission and non-missing admission date. Results: The cohort consists of 40,550 patients hospitalised during the first wave. These patients had a median age of 69 (interquartile range 56–80) and were more likely to be men (60%) than women (40%). The hospital-fatality risk, averaged over all pathways through hospital, was 27.5% (95% CI 27.1–28.0%); and steadily decreased from 34.6% (32.5–36.6%) in February to 7.6% (6.3–10.6%) in June. Among surviving patients, median length of stay in hospital was 11.8 (11.6–12.3) days, compared to 8.1 (7.8–8.5) days in non-survivors. Averaged over final outcomes, median length of stay in hospital decreased from 21.4 (20.5–22.8) days in February to 5.2 (4.7–5.8) days in June. Conclusions: The hospital burden, in terms of both risks of poor outcomes and lengths of stay in hospital, has been demonstrated to have decreased over the months of the first wave, perhaps reflecting improved treatment and management of COVID-19 cases, as well as reduced burden as the first wave waned. The quantified burden allows for planning of hospital beds needed for current and future waves of SARS-CoV-2 i.