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Post-COVID symptoms may persist in some cases

James Kon

COVID-19 cases who have completed their isolation may still feel the long-term effects of COVID-19 or even develop new symptoms related to COVID-19 in a condition known as post-COVID, said Infectious Diseases Consultant at the Ministry of Health (MoH) Dr Hajah Riamiza Natalie binti Haji Momin at a press conference on Thursday on post-COVID conditions.

Post-COVID symptoms that may continue to persist include extreme tiredness (fatigue), shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, problems with memory and concentration (brain fog), coughing, body aches, and joint aches, she said.

“In the process of recovering from COVID-19, every individual progresses differently as the initial symptoms of each case are different, ranging from mild to severe. Asymptomatic cases may not have any persistent symptoms, while others may continue to have persistent coughs, easy fatigabilities and breathing difficulties, among others. Hence, a number of COVID-19 cases may still continue to have some of the symptoms after they complete their isolation,” said Dr Hajah Riamiza Natalie.

She added, “For COVID-19 cases who have been in the hospital due to severe symptoms and in need of organ support such as ventilators, the process of recovery may take longer.”

Dr Hajah Riamiza Natalie said in general, recovery from COVID-19 is similar to other post-infectious conditions, and may take several weeks for the body to recover.

Infectious Diseases Consultant at the Ministry of Health Dr Hajah Riamiza Natalie binti Haji Momin. PHOTO: JAMES KON

“This is not uncommon. The symptoms will go away on their own. If the symptoms still persist, then it is important to seek medical advice.”

The infectious diseases consultant said if the symptoms persist beyond two to three months after having COVID-19, then it is formally known as a post-COVID condition (known by many names including long COVID or long-haul COVID). “One in every 10 cases may experience post-COVID symptoms long after the infection has gone.”

On the post-COVID-19 symptoms in the immediate recovery phase, she said, “It is important to practice self-management. If the individual lacks energy, he or she should rest.

Pace yourself if you feel fatigued while carrying out daily duties or exercising. Know your limits. Insya Allah, your body will slowly recover back to normal. However in certain circumstances, if the individual has persistent coughing, seek medical consultation. A doctor can assess and prescribe medicine to help with the condition.”

For COVID cases in Categories 4 and 5 who experienced severe symptoms, Dr Hajah Riamiza Natalie said the MoH also has in place physiotherapists, occupational therapists and other disciplines to help rehabilitate patients in hospital on their road to recovery.