Coronavirus symptoms update: Doctors identify five long-term effects of COVID-19

Criticisms of how respective governments have handled the coronavirus crisis are being levelled left, right, and centre. While ministers should undoubtedly face scrutiny over their actions, no one can deny the dynamism seen within the science community. From the frontline to laboratories, an all-too risk-averse industry has undergone a much-needed shakeup in response to the pandemic.

Thanks to their hard work, the world is on a much surer footing, particularly in the area of symptoms.

There is much still to be understood, of course, but research has provided a detailed understanding of the myriad ways the virus can impact the body.

A new survey conducted by the British Medical Association (BMA) refines understanding of the long-term effects.

Almost a third of doctors have treated patients for long-term symptoms believed to have been caused by coronavirus, according to the findings.

The BMA said 31 percent of almost 4,000 doctors in England and Wales had seen patients suffering from chronic fatigue, reduced exercise capacity, muscle weakness and memory loss.

According to the BMA’s survey, the doctors believed the symptoms were the result of the patient having suffered from COVID-19.

A further 21 percent of 1,030 doctors who had since recovered from the virus reported chronic fatigue, while 11 percent said they had concentration difficulties.

Dr Richard Vautrey, chairman of the BMA’s GP committee for England, said it was becoming “increasingly clear” that the long-term impact of coronavirus on both individuals and the health system would be “profound”.

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He said: “These statistics suggest that patients are, even once they have recovered from the worst of this virus, still suffering the after-effects for some time.

“With more patients presenting with conditions as the result of infection, it’s essential that sufficient capacity is in place to support and treat them.”

Faced with a growing backlog of non-coronavirus treatment, and the possibility of a second wave of infections, a “more comprehensive long-term plan” was needed.

How was the survey conducted?

A total of 4,279 doctors took part in the BMA’s survey, of which 3,729 responded to the question about their patients’ long-term symptoms.

The survey also found that 26 percent of some 4,120 doctors believed they had – or may have had – COVID-19.

The worrying finding came as no surprise to Dr David Strain, the BMA’s medical academic staff committee co-chair, noting that frontline staff had experienced high rates of infection, adding that it was “not acceptable”.

He said: “The increasing evidence that COVID-19 patients can suffer long-lasting symptoms, irrespective of the severity of the initial infection, requires detailed study to understand what optimum treatment would be, and, preferably, how to prevent it occurring in the first place.

“Until this is known, it is imperative that the Government and the NHS does more to protect the medical community from infection.”

Coronavirus symptoms – what to do if you have them

According to the NHS, if you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), you must self-isolate and get a test as soon as possible.

Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, must also stay at home until you get your result, says the health body.

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

“Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms,” adds the NHS.

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