Two-thirds of survivors of severe Covid-19 cases in Malaysia are found to have experienced the disease’s long-term effects, said Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
As such, he reminded people to register for vaccination, as the vaccines would reduce the risk of severe symptoms caused by the disease.
“This is because its effects could last a long time and reduces a person’s productivity and quality of life.
The viral infection that causes Covid-19 is usually cleared by the body’s immune system in about two weeks, but the damage inflicted on the body during this period can be long-lasting.
Post-Covid syndrome, also known as ‘Long Covid’, is defined as signs and symptoms that developed during or after Covid-19 infection, up to 12 weeks or more and are not explained by alternative diagnosis.
Noor Hisham said most Covid-19 patients appear to make full recovery, but some have reported Long Covid symptoms.
Based on a study conducted by the ministry that involved 1,004 former Category Four and Five patients receiving follow-up treatment, the director-general said 66 percent have Long Covid.
The five most commonly reported symptoms are fatigue, breathing difficulties while under physical exertion (exertional dyspnea), insomnia, cough, and anxiety.
For the record, Category 4 patients are those who have severe pneumonia require supplemental oxygen to breathe, while Category 5 patients are critically ill and require intensive care.
Noor Hisham did not mention survivors of mild Covid-19 cases, but Long Covid cases have been reported abroad even among asymptomatic patients.
An analysis of medical records in California found that 32 percent of people reported having Long Covid symptoms were asymptomatic during their initial infection. The study was published on medRxiv on March 5 as pre-print prior to being peer-reviewed.
Meanwhile, Noor Hisham said patients with Long Covid are referred to relevant specialists to ensure optimum treatment is given to provide relief for their symptoms.
More studies on Long Covid will be conducted to understand Long Covid’s effects, and this will be announced to the public from time to time, he said.
“Therefore, Covid-19 patients discharged from hospitals will be given appointments for follow-up treatment, and they are reminded to be present at the appointed time.
“For former Covid-19 patients who still have symptoms, they are advised to seek medical advice and treatment at the nearest clinic or hospital.
“This is important to maintain the health of former Covid-19 patients at the best level and reduce the risk of long-term complications,” he said.