Effect of timing of implementation of containment measures on Covid-19 epidemic. The case of the first wave in Italy

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Abstract

There is evidence that adoption of non-pharmaceutical containment measures (NPMs) may have had a major impact on Covid-19 epidemic dynamics, and mitigated its effect on healthcare system. Optimal timing of implementation of these measures however is not known. In Italy, a national lockdown was decided on March 11th 2020 and ended 4th of May. At that time, cumulative incidence (CI) was different in Italian regions which ranged from <5 cases/ 100,000 to >11 cases/100,000 inhabitants. In this paper, we aim to evaluate how level of incidence in different regions at the time of implementation of NPMs affected CI and had an impact on the healthcare system in terms of ICU bed occupancy and mortality rates. We used regional daily new COVID-19 diagnosed cases as well number of people hospitalized in ICU and number of deaths for period February 24-May 11 from all the 19 Italian regions and two autonomous provinces. For each region we calculated: temporal daily trend of cumulative cases of Covid-19/100,000 inhabitants, daily trend of ICU bed occupancy and mortality rate at the end of period. We found that the epidemic curves show similar trends for all regions and all tend to flatten between 11-32 days. However, after 2 months, regions with lower CI at lockdown remained at substantially lower CI (<265 cases/100,000), had a peak of percentage of cases hospitalized in ICU which did not exceed 79.4% and a mortality<0.27/1,000. On the other hand, in regions with higher incidence at lockdown, CI reached 382-921 cases/100,000, the peak of percentage of cases hospitalized in ICU and mortality rate reached 270%, and 1.5/1,000, respectively. Our data suggests that level of CI at the moment of lockdown is important to control the subsequent spread of infection so NPMs should be adopted very early during the course of Covid-19 epidemic, in order to mitigate the impact on the healthcare system and to reduce related mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0245656
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalPLoS One
Volume16
Issue number1 January
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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