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The COVID-19 pandemic deeply affected northern-Italian regions.1 Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna had the highest cumulative incidence with 627.1 and 470.53 cases/100 000 inhabitants respectively on 16 April 2020 according to Italian ‘Istituto Superiore di Sanità’ (ISS). While a mild course has been reported in patients with chronic arthritis treated with targeted immunosuppressive agents,2 few and controversial data are available about COVID-19 in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).3 4 To this purpose, since 6 April 2020, given the mobility restriction imposed nationwide, we initiated a telemedicine project aimed at ensuring regular follow-up, starting from SLE patients.5 During the visit, we conducted a survey to investigate any COVID-19 related symptoms that occurred since 15 February 2020 and the results of available nasopharyngeal swabs. The survey was addressed to patients coming from Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna. We evaluated 165 patients (112 females, 84%, median age 52.5 years, range 25–81; median disease duration 13 years, range 1–53). Among them, 127 (77%) were on hydroxychloroquine …
Handling editor Josef S Smolen
EBC and GZ contributed equally.
Contributors Study design: LC, VC and CM. Telemedicine visits and data collection: EBC, GZ, AB and LC. Data analysis: LC and VC. Manuscript drafting: EBC, GZ. Manuscript review: LC, AB, VC and CM. Final approval: all authors.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Ethics approval All subjects agreed to participate in this survey and provided the informed consent as approved by our Institutional Review Board.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.