The effect of the SARS-CoV2 pandemic and lockdown on non-Covid ICU admissions: Experience from a South African tertiary hospital

Main Article Content

S Murphy
K Zwane
K Williams
S Omar


Background. Future pandemic planning involves analysing past experiences. We compared intensive care unit (ICU) admissions during the SARS- CoV-2 pandemic (2020) with the preceding year.

Objectives. To assess the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic’s effect on ICU admissions in a tertiary hospital, examining differences in patient characteristics, organ support requirements, reason for admission, mortality rates and length of ICU stay.

Methods. This retrospective cohort study compared ICU patient data at a tertiary hospital during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic (26 March 2020 to 20 September 2020) with the same period in 2019.

Results. Patient admissions (p=0.39) and severity of illness (p=0.27 adults; p=0.92 paediatrics) showed no differences across the study period. Similarly, no differences were observed for underlying chronic conditions between the two years. Adult trauma admissions significantly declined, specifically those related to road traffic accidents (RR 0.63). Admissions for acute infectious conditions, including respiratory infections, sepsis, urosepsis, septic arthritis and gastroenteritis significantly declined in both adults (RR 0.50) and paediatric admissions (RR 0.25). During the lockdown period, the length of stay (LOS) decreased for adults, but mortality rates remained unchanged across the study period. The paediatric mortality rate decreased during the lockdown period (p=0.004).

Conclusion. There was no reduction in SARS-CoV-2-negative ICU admissions during the 2020 lockdown period compared with the preceding year, likely due to chronic resource limitations. We found a decrease in acute trauma and acute infectious illness admissions, while acute surgical emergency admissions increased. These findings suggest that lockdown orders may have affected admission patterns, aiding in future pandemic planning.

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The effect of the SARS-CoV2 pandemic and lockdown on non-Covid ICU admissions: Experience from a South African tertiary hospital. (2024). Southern African Journal of Critical Care, 40(1), e1435.
Research Articles

How to Cite

The effect of the SARS-CoV2 pandemic and lockdown on non-Covid ICU admissions: Experience from a South African tertiary hospital. (2024). Southern African Journal of Critical Care, 40(1), e1435.


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