COVID-19 interactive display

The arrival of COVID-19 in early 2020 dramatically disrupted our lives. 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.

At the same time, people changed the way they accessed health care, and priorities were shifted within the hospital system (AIHW 2021). For example, restrictions were applied to some types of elective surgery from late March to ensure the system could maintain adequate capacity to deal with the pandemic.

Month of admission data suggests that these changes in behaviour and within the hospital system impacted on the number and types of injury hospitalisations.

The following interactive display (Figure 1) shows injury hospital admissions by month for the most recent three years. It illustrates:

  • the seasonal pattern of certain categories of injuries, and
  • the impact of COVID-19 on injury hospitalisations after March 2020 when compared with previous years.

There was a decrease in total hospital admissions for injuries after March 2020, with 14% fewer admissions between March and May compared with the previous year.

The decrease in hospitalisations was larger for some injury causes than others. Drowning, electricity and air pressure, contact with living things, forces of nature and overexertion had the largest decreases.

The types of injuries for which people were admitted to hospital was affected. Fractures, dislocations, soft tissue, intracranial, and superficial injuries all decreased considerably around March 2020, while other types remained relatively steady.

The restrictions also changed where people tended to be when they got injured. There were less injuries at community locations such as schools, sporting areas and shopping centres. Meanwhile, injuries at home were more frequent from April onwards.

Figure 1: Interactive COVID-19 display, 2017–18 to 2019–20 

Multi-layer interactive displaying injury hospitalisations by month of admission over three years to 2019-20. The user can display by cause of injury category, or type of injury, or place of occurrence. The Months from May to June are shaded to focus attention on the months of 2020 impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.