Emerg Infect Dis 28 (3) 564-571 [2022-03-00; online 2022-02-25]
We report on local nowcasting (short-term forecasting) of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) hospitalizations based on syndromic (symptom) data recorded in regular healthcare routines in Östergötland County (population ≈465,000), Sweden, early in the pandemic, when broad laboratory testing was unavailable. Daily nowcasts were supplied to the local healthcare management based on analyses of the time lag between telenursing calls with the chief complaints (cough by adult or fever by adult) and COVID-19 hospitalization. The complaint cough by adult showed satisfactory performance (Pearson correlation coefficient r>0.80; mean absolute percentage error <20%) in nowcasting the incidence of daily COVID-19 hospitalizations 14 days in advance until the incidence decreased to <1.5/100,000 population, whereas the corresponding performance for fever by adult was unsatisfactory. Our results support local nowcasting of hospitalizations on the basis of symptom data recorded in routine healthcare during the initial stage of a pandemic.