Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said based on the monitoring of patients with Long Covid symptoms, the five main symptoms often experienced were lethargy (79.2 per cent), difficulty breathing while performing certain activities (52.6 per cent), cough (17.2 per cent), difficulty sleeping (14.6 per cent) and anxiety (10.6 per cent). -NSTP file pic
PUTRAJAYA: Failing to effectively treat Long Covid conditions on time could lead to serious long-term health consequences.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said based on the monitoring of patients with Long Covid symptoms, the five main symptoms often experienced were lethargy (79.2 per cent), difficulty breathing while performing certain activities (52.6 per cent), cough (17.2 per cent), difficulty sleeping (14.6 per cent) and anxiety (10.6 per cent).
He said without specific and structured treatment, this condition has the potential to persist and could take a long time before patients' situation return to normal, thus affecting their quality of life post-infection.
"This can lead to serious implications such as increased morbidity, disability, decreased productivity, loss of source of income and thus the socio-economic burden falls not only on the individual, but also their families, society and the nation's economy," he said at a special press conference held at the ministry here today.
According to the United States Centre for Disease Control (CDC), Long Covid, also known as Post-Covid conditions was a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience four or more weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes Covid-19.
Even people who did not have Covid symptoms in the days or weeks after they were infected could have post-Covid conditions. These conditions can present as different types and combinations of health problems for different lengths of time.
Khairy said while there are cases where patients return to the hospital after being discharged and treated based on the symptoms and signs of Long Covid, there has been no significant increase in re-admission to the ICU among Long Covid patients in the past two weeks.
"For death cases, there is no specific classification for Long Covid cases because death is recorded based on the cause of death.
"Several studies are being conducted to find out more about this issue and the results of this study will be announced when the study is completed."
Khairy said the ministry has implemented several initiatives in line with the World Health Organisation's recommendations to address Long Covid, which is to highlight the concept of 3R (Recognition, Rehabilitation and Research).
On 'Recognition', he said Long Covid is identified as an entity that requires specialised care, hence national guidelines and protocols involving various medical specialist services including general care, primary care, respiratory, organising pneumonia, immunocompromised, nephrology, obstetrics, paediatrics, rehabilitation and psychiatry have been established starting June 2021.
The ministry, he said, has also taken note of the importance of rehabilitation services to address the medium and long term effects of Covid symptoms.
"Long Covid treatment is available at existing health facilities. Those who suffer from the symptoms are advised to seek treatment at the nearest health facility for evaluation and prescription of an early rehabilitation programme by physiotherapists and occupational rehabilitation staff who will be monitored by a family physician.
"While for individuals affected with more serious Long Covid symptoms and need a specialised rehabilitation programme, they will be referred to a specialist hospital with rehabilitation medical specialist services that provide specialised programmes through an interdisciplinary multi-specialist approach."
Khairy said among the hospitals that provide specialised rehabilitation programmes to address Long Covid symptoms are Hospital Rehabilitasi Cheras, Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Hospital Sungai Buloh, Hospital Serdang, Hospital Tuanku Ampuan Rahimah, Hospital Tengku Ampuan Afzan, Hospital Raja Perempuan Zainab II, Hospital Pulau Pinang, Hospital Sultanah Bahiyah, Hospital Jitra, Hospital Kuala Nerang, Hospital Rembau , Hospital Sandakan, Hospital Umum Sarawak,
Hospital Sultan Ismail, Hospital Miri , Hospital Bandar Seri Jempol, Hospital Tuanku Ampuan Najihah, Hospital Sultanah Aminah, Hospital Tuanku Jaafar Seremban, Hospital Kemaman, Hospital Sultanah Nur Zahirah, Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun, Hospital Melaka, and Hospital Queen Elizabeth.
University of Malaya Medical Center, Universiti Teknologi MARA Medical Center as well as private facilities such as ReGen Hospital, Daehan Sunway, Prince Court also provide special rehabilitation program services to address the symptoms of Long Covid, he said.
Additionally, Khairy said various clinical studies involving different medical specialties including rehabilitation are currently being conducted to understand in more detail the symptoms, risk factors, impact and outcome of Long Covid symptoms.