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HomeNewsLocal NewsLong COVID - What is it? What do we know?

Long COVID – What is it? What do we know?

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by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) – The coverage of COVID-19 cannot escape a newsroom since the onset of this pandemic at the end of 2019 and ultimately worsening in 2020. 

The SARS-CoV2 virus has affected every industry, whether halting tourism and entertainment sectors, where tourism could expect a $4 trillion loss and boosting online shopping sales by about $400 billion globally.

COVID-19 has proven that it lingers for a while and the effects will be felt in the post COVID world we are working towards.

One of the effects on an individual level stems from people who have recovered from COVID-19 but are still experiencing certain symptoms. The World Health Organization calls it post-COVID-19 condition or “long COVID”. 

What are these symptoms? 

“Some of the most common symptoms of post-COVID-19 condition or, as you said, “long COVID” include shortness of breath, cognitive dysfunction which people call brain fog, as well as fatigue. Those are the three most common. However, there [have] been more than 200 symptoms that actually have been reported in patients, so that list is quite long. Other symptoms that patients or people may experience include things such as chest pain, such as trouble speaking, some have described anxiety or depression, muscle aches, fever, loss of smell, loss of taste; so the list is quite long, but those top three are the ones that have been described,” Dr Janet Diaz, Lead, Clinical Management of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme. 

Dr Diaz explained how long the symptoms last and if there are any treatment options.

“Our understanding of the duration or how long this condition lasts is still not completely clear. It has been described that the condition can last three months, some have described as long as six months, and potentially up to nine months, but as you know, we’re still about one year and a half into the pandemic. [There are] still more studies that need to be done to follow patients who develop post-COVID-19 condition or “long COVID” and to see when their symptoms we hope resolved… Any patient or person who develops post-COVID-19 condition should seek care. The care pathways should be multidisciplinary in nature, meaning that they can include your primary care provider, as well as relevant specialists, rehab professionals, social care workers, psychosocial workers, mental health professionals, and that’s the type of care people with post-COVID-19 condition should receive. In regards to specific treatment, we don’t yet have one. The reason is because we don’t yet understand why this develops. So as we’re learning more about the actual reason or mechanism of the disease developing, then we hope to have a specific treatment.”

During the height of community spread here in the Federations, some 32 people were hospitalised because of COVID-19.

With this in mind, we asked officials of the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) if anyone in the federation has reported symptoms of post-COVID-19 condition or “long COVID”?

“Let me start by saying that long is relative because this pandemic reached St. Kitts about 18 months ago, and we continue to see persons showing up with symptoms, and yes they are persons who are continuing to have long haul symptoms, even after they have tested negative and deemed fully recovered. And that is why it’s so important to protect yourself through vaccination so that you can avoid the chronic fatigue symptoms, the forgetfulness, the muscle aches, etc., and just generally not feeling your normal self. And so I encourage everyone to move forward and get vaccinated,” said Dr Cameron Wilkinson, Medical Chief of Staff at the Joseph N France General Hospital, during the August 11 press briefing hosted by the NEOC.

According to the WHO, the effects of the vaccine on “long COVID” is still unknown at this point because of how new the virus and vaccines are but suggest vaccination as the way to prevent getting infected with the virus as the best preemptive measure to avoid having to tackle the possibility of “long COVID”.

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