In order to reduce transmission of COVID-19, social distancing measures were proposed, including spatial distancing (2m distance), or even generalized lockdown. Main concern was to prevent overwhelming of the healthcare systems, mainly of the intensive care units (ICUs) by decreasing the spreading of the disease. In Greece, the Government, after consulting with experts in the fields of infectious disease and epidemiology, implemented a rather aggressive stance with an early lockdown. Aim of our study, is to identify and compare the characteristics of cases referred for autopsy during the first month of the lockdown period for the COVID-19 outbreak, versus the cases referred during the same period in 2019. 231 autopsy cases were included in our study, 125 in 2019 and 106 in 2020. Regarding gender, age and nationality, no significant differences were detected between the two time periods. Age subgroup analysis demonstrated increased number of cases within the age group 70-79 years, in 2020. As to the place of death, the increase in the percentage of out-of-hospital deaths was not confirmed as statistically significant. Regarding type of death (violent, sudden/unexpected), the drop of violent deaths in the 2020 examined period, was not confirmed as statistically significant; however, further subgroup analysis showed a significant drop of fatal injuries resulting from road traffic accidents in the 2020 period. The slight increase of sudden/unexpected deaths, especially myocardial infarction cases, did not reach statistical significance. One month after lockdown, we cannot detect significant differences in the two time periods examined. Further study should be conducted soon when more data will become available. Frequency of fatal myocardial infarction seems to remain unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic while deaths resulting from road traffic accidents exhibit a significant decrease. Homicides and suicides remain at low levels, in our jurisdiction area, seemingly unaffected by the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown. It appears that since sudden/unexpected deaths, statistically remain unaffected, the preventive measures taken by the Greek authorities prevented overwhelming of the healthcare system, which could function properly.
Keywords: COVID-19; Forensic medicine; Greece; Lockdown; Mortality; SARS-CoV-2.
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