Long Covid found to affect 10-20 per cent of Thai patients

Around 10-20 per cent of recovered Covid-19 patients in Thailand will likely develop post-syndrome, or long-term Covid-19 symptoms, even after their initial recovery, the latest statistics from the Department of Medical Services (DMS) found.

This means that for some people symptoms can last for weeks or months after the infection has gone.

With Thailand still struggling to contain the pandemic and health authorities rushing to treat those infected, these new findings have many public health officials concerned with the trajectory of the country’s treatment plan. 

“The government must not only support patients who have Covid-19 now but also support patients who have side-effects from the Covid-19 infections in the long term.” Parinya Laohateelanonda, a public health official in Nonthaburi shared her concerns with Thai Enquirer on Wednesday.

“They must be taken care of because they will find it hard to take care of themselves.” 

The condition is also currently being reported in other parts of the world, and is referred to as “post Covid-19 syndrome”, “long Covid”, or “post-Covid condition”. While the phenomenon, according to Thailand’s DMS, is usually associated with the elderly, those with obesity, and long steroid use, studies from the US have also found that even young, otherwise healthy people can also feel unwell for weeks or even months after the infection. 

The symptoms may include:

  • fatigue
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • chest pain or tightness
  • problems with memory and concentration (“brain fog”)
  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • heart palpitations
  • kidney damage
  • dizziness
  • pins and needles
  • joint pain
  • depression and anxiety
  • tinnitus, earaches
  • feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
  • a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste
  • rashes
  • fascia pain

While more studies in the future will further shed light on the issue, health authorities from all over the world have already begun to warn citizens of the possible long-term side effects they may possibly develop. COVID-19 can attack the body in a myriad of ways: from lung damage, kidney failure, or mental health problems arising from grief, loss, unresolved pain, and post-traumatic disorder (PTSD).

“We’re seeing a spectrum of symptoms after acute COVID-19, some of which would be expected after other critical illnesses. Some are minor, but other people may need continuing care and even readmission to the hospital,” noted Dr Emily Brigham, a researcher and specialist in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

While reportedly only between 10-20 per cent of Thai patients are found to have suffered from long-term COVID-19 symptoms after their initial recovery, the same condition affects around 40-50 per cent of recovered patients in other countries, noted Dr Piamlap Sangsayan, the chief of Pulmonary Medicine at the DMS’s Central Chest Institute of Thailand. 

The lower rate among Thais, however, may be due to insufficient data and possibility that those who suffered the long-term effects may not have reported on their symptoms, she added.

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