BACKGROUND: The Emergency Department in Trondheim has prepared for a large influx of patients infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus . We conducted a study comparing patients in the Emergency Department in the first weeks of the pandemic in Norway (weeks 11 and 12) with the average number of patient visits . MATERIAL AND
METHOD: Data from patients at the Emergency Department of St Olav's Hospital in the period 6 January 2020-22 March 2020 were retrieved from the Emergency Department's database . Logistical patient data concerning patient numbers, chief complaints, length of stay in the Emergency Department, acuity level, isolation status, and treatment level were analysed .
RESULTS: In week 12 , 331 patients were referred to the Emergency Department, a reduction of 39% compared with the average of 541 patients in weeks 2-10 . There was a general reduction in all patient groups, but particularly those discharged from the Emergency Department . In week 12 there were 56 more patients isolated with suspected/potentially infectious disease (187 %) compared with the average for weeks 2-10, and these patients spent almost two hours longer in the Emergency Department than other patients . INTERPRETATION: There was a reduction in patient visits to the Emergency Department in the first weeks of the pandemic . The percentage of patients isolated for infection control increased, and the time spent in the Emergency Department for these patients was greater than for other patients . The reduction in the inflow of patients is expected to be temporary, and the Emergency Department at St Olav's Hospital expects a large influx of patients with suspected COVID-19 disease.