Covid-19 is often measured by the number of people infected and the deaths associated with it. But the impact of the virus has extended beyond the direct effects of the coronavirus. Covid-19 is no longer a global public health emergency, but its effects still run wider and deeper.

Urmila Sharma (38) of Koteshwor feels fatigued and tired. She experiences shortness of breath when walking for a little distance and also while climbing stairs. She feels that her health has not been the same after she got infected with the coronavirus a year ago.

There are many people across the world who have a similar plight to that of Sharma, experiencing similar kinds of symptoms such as fatigue and tiredness. Many are suffering from heart diseases and diabetes.

Such patients are visiting hospitals for a regular check-up concerning the long effects of coronavirus. Their main concern is their current health status, as they had recovered from the coronavirus infection after receiving intensive care.

As per Dr Bidesh Bista, clinical pulmonologist at Civil Hospital, many of the patients who were infected from the coronavirus in the past have recovered. The lungs infected by the coronavirus have become normal, but 10-15 percent of the patients who had Covid-19 in the past still have lung fibrosis, a condition where patches are seen in the lungs.

According to the Ministry of Health and Population, a total of 1,157,414 people have been infected from the virus in the country. Meanwhile 12,031 people have succumbed to the infection as of June 18.

According to the World Health Organization, common symptoms of post-Covid-19 can include fatigue, shortness of breath and cognitive dysfunction. Over 200 different symptoms have been reported that can have an impact on everyday functioning.

Long covid symptoms

Long Covid symptoms include chest pain, fatigue or muscle weakness, palpitations, cough, diabetes, pancreas injury, abdominal pain, nausea, cognitive impairment, brain fog, disordered sleep, memory loss et cetera.

In a study conducted by Jin Yin-tan Hospital in Wuhan China published in the Lancet in August 2021, in which the authors reported on one-year outcomes from the largest cohort of hospitalized adult Covid-19 survivors, it showed that fatigue or muscle weakness (63 percent, 1,038 of 1,655) and sleep difficulties (26 percent, 437 of 1,655) were the most common symptoms. Anxiety or depression was reported among 23 percent (367 of 1617) of patients.


A research conducted by Sangam Shah and others showed the post-Covid status of 300 patients admitted to the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital. The study revealed that most of the patients had fever (81.7), followed by fatigue (81.3) and cough (78.3). The research revealed that fatigue was the most common persistent symptom.

“People have been experiencing fear, anxiety, feeling short of breath, trouble concentrating. Such complications are more in elderly people and in diabetics. These symptoms also differ how much degree of severity one had due to Covid-19,” said Dr Bista.

Dr Prabhat Adhikari, internal medicine, infectious disease and critical care at Center for American Medical Specialists (CAMS), said: “Patients who were more severely ill because of the coronavirus, who were admitted in the intensive care unit have experienced comparatively higher long term effects.”

To prevent the long effects of Covid-19, doctors suggest preventing oneselves from catching infection and maintaining body weight.

Psychological disorders

People who had Covid-19 have been experiencing psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression or other mood changes, concentration or memory problems—brain fog and sleep disturbance—as well.

Though the exact causes for these symptoms are unknown, they could be because of the effects of the infection on the brain, immune system or the other organ, say doctors.

They could be the result of traumatic aspects of the experience of having Covid-19. Long-term hospitalization, in intensive care units, can lead to post-intensive care syndrome, which often includes severe weakness, cognitive problems (including poor concentration), and even post-traumatic stress disorder.

“If one has psychological issues one can practice yoga and meditation. Psychological consultation is necessary for depression,” said Dr Adhikari.

According to a research paper published in Nature Journal, entitled Long COVID: Major findings, mechanisms and recommendations, long Covid is an often debilitating illness that occurs in at least 10 percent of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infections.  More than 200 symptoms have been identified with impacts on multiple organ systems. At least 65m individuals around the world have long Covid, based on a conservative estimated incidence of 10 percent of infected people and more than 651m documented Covid-19 cases worldwide. The number is likely much higher due to many undocumented cases. The incidence is estimated at 10–30 percent of non-hospitalized cases, 50–70 percent of hospitalized cases and 10–12 percent of vaccinated cases.

Long Covid is associated with all ages and acute phase disease severities, with the highest percentage of diagnoses between the ages of 36 and 50 years, and most long Covid cases are in non-hospitalized patients with a mild acute illness, the research reveals.

More research necessary

Though people are experiencing long Covid symptoms no proper study has been done in Nepal to conclude the long effects of the infection and its symptoms in people across the country.

“The virus can trigger the immune system. No research has been done in the country regarding whether the virus in the cells have been completely damaged or not. Is the virus still overactive in the body and weak? It needs to be studied. Also there is no specific test to find out whether the above symptoms are of long Covid or not,” said Dr Anup Subedee.

There have been more than 200 symptoms that actually have been reported in patients, according to the WHO.

However, there are no exact number of people suffering from long Covid in the country.

Protecting yourself from long Covid

Some of the effects of the virus can be seen even after decades. Health practitioners recommend a number of measures to help prevent long covid. They recommend people to:

  •         Take Covid -19 vaccines/boosters
  •         Take vaccines against influenzas
  •         Wear well-fitting masks
  •         Wash hands regularly
  •         Ensure well ventilation in indoor spaces
  •         Prevent catching Covid
  •         Increase the number of Covid tests

Many patients fear they will never return to their lives before contacting coronavirus.  Although the symptoms improve over time, many still have symptoms one year after diagnosis.

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