A WHO commissioned study claimed that long COVID could last for at least two months and it can't be explained through an alternative diagnosis.
"The common symptoms (of long COVID) include fatigue, shortness of breath and cognitive dysfunction," it said.
"Symptoms may be new-onset, following initial recovery from an acute COVID19 episode, or persist from the initial illness. Symptoms may fluctuate or relapse over time," it added.
A clinical case definition of post COVID-19 condition by a Delphi consensus - the study that produced this clinical definition claimed older age and gender are factors in the occurrence of long COVID symptoms, with women reporting more persistent health issues.
There's no definite estimate about the number of people suffering from long COVID.
The UK's Office for National Statistics used the local (COVID-19) infection survey data to report that 1.5 million people were experiencing self-reported long COVID as of 31 January 2022.
A New South Wales study found that about five per cent of people diagnosed with COVID-19 had long COVID symptoms.
Symptoms of long COVID, as listed by the Department of Health and Human Services of Victoria, may include:
- shortness of breath
- concentration/memory issues
- changes in mood – anxiety, depression, stress, feelings of guilt
- loss of smell or taste
- sleep issues
- heart-pounding/palpitations/racing heart/chest pain
- skin rashes
- muscle aches and joint pains
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare is progressing a project to link COVID-19 case data at the national level to administrative data. It's expected to enable research into long COVID.
Furthermore, the University of Queensland has received research grants for two separate studies, including virus-induced vascular complications and potential long-term consequences on brain cells.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has set some guidelines for general practitioners GPs on caring for adult patients with post COVID-19.
The RACGP has published a guidebook for patients on managing fatigue and other symptoms related to long COVID.
Even if the experts disagree on how many are affected and research has only begun, it's becoming more and more apparent that long COVID will be a factor for years to come, even after the pandemic has ended.
If you have any of the following symptoms, call emergency services on 000 immediately and tell the phone operator you’ve previously been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- severe shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- severe chest pain or pressure
- a new or returning fever
- worsening ability to concentrate and increased confusion
- difficulty waking up
If you experience other symptoms after recovering from COVID-19, get in touch with your GP or other health provider (source: Healthdirect).
SBS is committed to providing all COVID-19 updates to Australia’s multicultural and multilingual communities. Stay safe and stay informed by visiting regularly the SBS Coronavirus portal, with the latest in your language.