Long COVID’ could become a public health crisis
By Dilanthi Jayamanne
‘Long COVID’ may have to be considered a public health crisis in the near future that should be placed under primary healthcare, Consultant Physician, National Eye Hospital, Dr. Waruna Gunathilaka said.
Speaking to the Media at the Health Promotion Bureau (HPB), Dr. Gunathilaka yesterday (13) said,“Global surveys show that there are 10 per cent to 30 per cent of persons suffering from long COVID. Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 figures since last year has risen to 500,000.And, we must consider that at least 10 per cent to 30 per cent of this national figure suffered from long COVID.”
Dr. Gunathilaka said a study being conducted at the NEH had revealed that there were over 60 staff members at the Hospital who had suffered from COVID-19 and 50 per cent of them suffer from long COVID.
He noted that COVID-like symptoms appeared four weeks after recovery from the disease due to the effect the virus has on the body. Accordingly, persons may suffer from restlessness, insomnia, difficulty in remembering, depression, increased heart rate, perspiring for no apparent reason. Their PCR tests would be negative.
Also, persons suffering from the symptoms cannot spread the virus. Dr. Gunathilaka said long COVID had resulted in the emergence of business concepts in the private sector where ‘COVID packages’ with fullbody checkups were being offered. However, Dr. Gunathilaka requested let a qualified doctor decide on the health condition of the individual.
He noted that long COVID was considered under the occupational health category in developed countries. Dr. Gunathilaka said the NEH conducted walk-in clinics five days of the week from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.for those with long COVID.