The UK government has issued new guidance on the long-term health impact of coronavirus, that states that around 10 per cent of mild coronavirus cases that were not admitted to hospital have reported symptoms lasting longer than four weeks, and in some hospitalised cases lasted longer than eight weeks after being discharged.

According to the Guardian, 60,000 may have experienced symptoms for over three months, showing a prevalence of ‘long COVID’, a term used to those suffering from prolonged symptoms. Tim Spector, a professor of epidemiology at King’s College London, said more than 300,000 people report symptoms lasting for longer than one month.

Long-term effects

Persistent health problems include:

  • Respiratory symptoms and conditions such as chronic cough, shortness of breath and lung inflammation
  • Cardiovascular symptoms and disease such as chest tightness, acute myocarditis and heart failure
  • Prolonged loss or change of smell and taste
  • Mental health problems including depression, anxiety and cognitive difficulties
  • Inflammatory disorders such as myalgia, multi-system inflammatory syndrome and Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Persistent headaches
  • Fatigue, weakness and sleeplessness
  • Liver and kidney dysfunction.

The guidance also advises recovering patients to talk to their GP about options for support for long-term and persistent health issues.

There have been studies that have shown COVID-19 is primarily a cardiovascular and not a pulmonary virus, and that those who are asymptomatic may fall victim to myocarditis, whose resulting disability may take decades to manifest.

Myocarditis does not have specific symptoms and most patients can be asymptomatic. Myocarditis can produce fibrosis of the heart, the symptoms of which may present years later with heart failure from dilated cardiomyopathy. However, in 50 per cent of cases, the cause of dilated cardiomyopathy is unknown, but there is strong evidence that past viral infections play a role.

Even if you do not show any symptoms of the coronavirus, always make sure you wear a mask in public enclosed spaces, and regularly wash your hands, to protect yourself and anyone you come in contact with.

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