Social distancing and dangers of access block to health care services during COVID-19 pandemic
An outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that started in Wuhan, China, has spread quickly, with cases confirmed in 180 countries with broad impact on all health care systems. Currently, the absence of a COVID-19 vaccine or any definitive medication has led to increased use of non-pharmaceutical interventions, aimed at reducing contact rates in the population and thereby transmission of the virus, especially social distancing. These social distancing guidelines indirectly create two isolated populations at high-risk: the chronically ill and voluntary isolated persons who had contact with a verified patient or person returning from abroad. In this concept paper we describe the potential risk of these populations leading to an 80% reduction in total Emergency Department (ED) visits, including patients with an acute condition. In conclusion, alternative medical examination solutions so far do not provide adequate response to the at-risk population. The healthcare system must develop and offer complementary solutions that will enable access to health services even during these difficult times.
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