Year of grant:
Heilsa - COVID-19 verkætlan
Árin av COVID-19 á heilsustøðuna hjá áttati ára gomlum føroyingum
Eina H. Eliasen
Deildin fyri Arbeiðs- og Almannaheilsu
Grant from the FRC in DKK:
Hendan verkætlanin er knýtt at ph.d.-verkætlanini, sum Eina H. Eliasen er í gongd við í løtuni. Lockdowns, injunction to gather in larger groups and social isolation to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus are attempts to shield the frail and elderly. But how do the attempts against the COVID-19 outbreak affect the health of our oldest residents? These are questions I intend to address in this study as a supplement to the applicant’s PhD project “The health status in Faroese septuagenarians and octogenarians from an objective and subjective perspective”. The study will leverage on responders from the Faroese Septuagenarian cohort (1), which makes the current assessment possible to be compared to the health status of the cohort members approximately a year ago. BACKGROUND COVID-19, a disease caused by a novel coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 (2). Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the number of persons affected has increased dramatically. Hence, the novel coronavirus is a major global human threat and was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (3). The virus has specifically high morbidity in person age >60 years and elderly people with underlying diseases e.g. diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and cerebro-vascular disease, are more susceptible (4). With case fatality ratio of 13.4% in the ≥80 years compared to 1.25% in the <60 years the risk of death increases substantially with age (5). However, mortality can be expected to vary with the underlying health status of people (6). According to data by Faroese Ministry of Health, by 12. April 2020, a total of 101 people aged ≥80 have been tested (corresponding to approximately 4.5% of Faroese aged ≥80), and among these aged ≥80, four cases were confirmed tested positive of COVID-19, with zero fatalities (7). With 4.5% of the population, aged ≥80 tested for COVID-19, there is a possibility that the number of undetected positive cases in this age group is higher and albeit there seems to be a stagnation of new cases, there is still a risk that the COVID-19 disease develops in the following weeks/months affecting the health in older Faroese. To shield specific populations e.g. the frail and elderly and protect health systems from overburdening, worldwide countries enforce lockdowns, injunction to gather in larger groups and social isolation to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. However, it is conceivable that the intention of protecting the elderly from the COVID-19 disease may have a negative impact on older people’s mental health and according to a recent study by Santini and colleagues, social disconnection puts older adults at greater risk of depression and anxiety (8). This is also the observation of the nurse from the citation above.