Health system collapse 45 days after the detection of COVID-19 in Ceará, Northeast Brazil: a preliminary analysis.Rev Soc Bras Med Trop. 2020; 53:e20200354.RS
COVID-19 emerged in late 2019 and quickly became a serious public health problem worldwide. This study aim to describe the epidemiological course of cases and deaths due to COVID-19 and their impact on hospital bed occupancy rates in the first 45 days of the epidemic in the state of Ceará, Northeastern Brazil.
The study used an ecological design with data gathered from multiple government and health care sources. Data were analyzed using Epi Info software.
The first cases were confirmed on March 15, 2020. After 45 days, 37,268 cases reported in 85.9% of Ceará's municipalities, with 1,019 deaths. Laboratory test positivity reached 84.8% at the end of April, a period in which more than 700 daily tests were processed. The average age of cases was 67 (<1 - 101) years, most occurred in a hospital environment (91.9%), and 58% required hospitalization in an ICU bed. The average time between the onset of symptoms and death was 18 (1 - 56) days. Patients who died in the hospital had spent an average of six (0 - 40) days hospitalized. Across Ceará, the bed occupancy rate reached 71.3% in the wards and 80.5% in the ICU.
The first 45 days of the COVID-19 epidemic in Ceará revealed a large number of cases and deaths, spreading initially among the population with a high socioeconomic status. Despite the efforts by the health services and social isolation measures the health system still collapsed.