CAPE TOWN- Out of the 39 million global Covid-19 cases thus far, most people have experienced brief and mild symptoms, however, some “long haulers” are left struggling with symptoms including lasting fatigue, persistent pain and breathlessness for months.
Scientists and researchers are now shifting their focus to the effects of “long Covid” as it is apparent that the disease has become far more complex and far reaching with a vast array of symptoms encompassing both physical and neurological.
While the correct medical terms is yet to be decided, “long Covid” is defined as having a long-term and ongoing illness after infection with coronavirus.
There is limited and incomplete evidence on the long-term effects of Covid-19, however, it is becoming increasingly clear that some people recovering from the disease is not a discrete episode but one that marks the start of ongoing and often debilitating symptoms.
In a report about long-term Covid-19, Britain’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) found that sufferers reported breathing difficulties, muscle weakness and pain, fatigue and prolonged fever as well as neurological, vascular and cardiac symptoms.
Clinical Adviser at the NIHR, Dr Elaine Maxwell who also led the report said, “this review highlights the detrimental physical and psychological impact that ongoing Covid-19 is having on many people’s lives”.
A study from Italy reported that 87% of people discharged from a Rome hospital were still experiencing at least one symptom two months after first testing positive for the virus and 55% had three or more symptoms including fatigue, difficulty in breathing, joint pain, and chest pain.
A UK-based patient group of long-term sufferers called LongCovidSOS has formed a campaign to put pressure on the government to recognise the needs of the group, and to raise awareness among the general public and employers so that people with Covid-19 are not discriminated against.
The group collected data from a King’s College London-devised symptom tracker app and found that 10% of Covid-19 patients remain unwell after three weeks, and up to 5% may continue to be sick for months.
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