As of June 29, 2021, a total of 677,751 Covid-19 patients have recovered and returned to the community. Most of them have returned to normal health, but some patients may complain of some symptoms that last for weeks or even months after recovery from Covid-19.
The following are some of the complaints:
“I get very tired every day. I used to be able to walk long distances before. Nowadays, I am unable to walk fast or long distances because I will have difficulty breathing.”
“I used to give speeches, but now I can’t even say more than two or three sentences as I have been wheezing almost every day.”
“I have trouble understanding and thinking now.”
“I have difficulty using the PowerPoint slides I prepared for teaching my students, my brain just get blank, and I don’t know what I should do.”
Apart from the above, complaints like headaches, loss of smell or taste, feeling dizzy while standing, palpitations or increased heartbeats, chest pains, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, coughs, joint or muscle pains, depression or anxiety, fever, and symptoms that get worse after physical or mental activities were also reported after patients have recovered.
These symptoms are caused by the body’s response to the virus continuing beyond the initial illness, and are collectively called post-Covid condition or long Covid.
Long Covid may continue for weeks or months beyond the initial illness. Long Covid can happen to any Covid-19 patients, even patients who were not hospitalised or had mild illness.
Some patients develop medical complications that may have lasting health effects.
As Covid-19 is a new disease and long Covid is even newer, only some preliminary findings are being reported. In Malaysia, there is only a single study conducted among 1,004 Covid-19 patients at Stages Four and Five in a hospital setting.
It has been reported that 66 per cent of them experienced symptoms like fatigue, breathing difficulties while performing physical activities, insomnia, coughs and anxiety, for up to three months or longer after infection.
There is no data about post-Covid condition from patients who were without symptoms or with milder manifestations (those at Stages One to Three).
We need more Information from all Covid-19 patients who have recovered and gone back to the community on the duration of long Covid, the proportions of those who did or did not experience long Covid, the common symptoms experienced, whether patients sought treatment, their ability to resume physical functions as before, their mental state, and the proportion of them returning to work.
Even if a small percentage of over half a million Covid-19 patients who have recovered in Malaysia experience long-term debilities, this could have health and economic consequences for the country.
In order to increase the awareness of long Covid among recovered patients, for clinicians and researchers to better understand post-Covid condition, and to provide information for the stakeholders for the planning of health programmes, the research team from the Centre of Epidemiology and Evidence Based Practice, University of Malaya has initiated a short survey for recovered Covid-19 patients.
We hope all post-Covid patients, regardless of whether they have any long Covid symptoms, will actively participate in the survey. We do not collect names or contact details. All data will remain confidential and the findings will be presented collectively. Click here to complete the survey. Thank you for your participation.
The best method to prevent long Covid is to prevent being infected with Covid-19. Practise all SOPs, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces, and get vaccinated when the opportunity is available.
Prof Dr Moy Foong Ming is from the Centre of Epidemiology and Evidence Based Practice, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya.
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