Thousands injured by unusual activities during Covid lockdowns

Exotic pets, like scorpions and venomous spiders, caused dozens of hospitalisations (image: Shutterstock)
Exotic pets, like scorpions and venomous spiders, caused dozens of hospitalisations (image: Shutterstock)

Popular Covid lockdown pursuits led to thousands of people in England requiring hospital treatment for injuries, NHS data for 2020 and 2021 has shown.

DIY, new pets and playground equipment were behind many of the hospitalisations, according to analysis of the figures by the PA news agency.

Cases of people getting struck by lightning also rose dramatically, while there were hundreds of cases caused by people falling out of trees.

The news comes as the Government is once again considering tougher Covid-19 restrictions in the wake of the Omicron wave.

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    New pets and DIY activities were major contributors to Covid lockdown hospitalisations (image: Shutterstock)

    At a glance: 5 key points

    Here are some of the more unusual findings from PA’s analysis of the NHS Digital data:

    • 349 people were admitted to hospital after injuring themselves with a lawnmower

    • More than 5,300 people had to seek medical treatment for injuries sustained after falling from playground equipment. While the average age of these patients was nine-and-a-half years old, the figure includes eight people aged 90 and over

    • 962 people required treatment after they injured themselves while climbing trees

    • 7,386 Brits were admitted to English hospitals after being bitten or struck by a dog. Meanwhile, rat bites led to 47 hospital admissions, 60 people were admitted after coming into contact with a venomous spider and four people needed to be treated after coming into contact with a scorpion. More unusually still, a 90-year-old woman was admitted to hospital after being injured by a crocodile or alligator

    • The number of people who needed professional medical help after being struck by lightning rose from three in 2019/20 to 18 in 2020/21


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    DIY and culinary accidents injure thousands

    Overall, many types of accidents and injuries actually fell compared to the previous year as most people spent more time indoors and less time engaging in their usual pre-Covid activities.

    But that didn’t prevent high numbers of injuries caused by common pursuits - like DIY, cooking and sunbathing - from finding their way into hospital.

    More than 5,600 people had to go to A&E after coming into contact with a powered hand tool and more than 2,700 were admitted after an accident with a non-powered hand tool, such as a hammer or a saw.


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    Compared to the previous year of data, hospital admissions for being struck by lightning jumped from 3 to 18 (image: Shutterstock)

    2,243 people needed to be admitted after coming into contact with hot drinks, food, fats and cooking oils.

    Another 153 people were admitted to hospital with sunburn.

    Meanwhile “overexertion and strenuous or repetitive movements” contributed to 12,355 hospital admissions.


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    PA said the figures only represented people who were admitted to hospital during 2020/21 and that many more accidents would have been dealt with by A&E doctors and GPs.

    Some people may also have been sent home to tend to their wounds.

    A spokesperson from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said the statistics served “to remind us of the breadth of accident types that can result in an injury so severe that admission to hospital is required.

    “In among the stranger entries in the database are some worrying trends that serve to highlight the accident challenges that we face.


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    “Accidents are preventable,” they added.

    “In the midst of the excitement of Christmas, particularly for those who were not able to be with their loved ones last year, we’d urge people to spare a thought for safety so the celebrations are not cut short by an accident that could have been prevented.”