Almost nine out of 10 patients discharged from a Rome hospital after recovery from COVID-19 were still experiencing at least one symptom two months later, a study shows.

The patients were only included in the study if they had a negative transcriptase polymerase chain reaction test for SARS-CoV-2, indicating they were not in the acute phase of the illness.

When patients were assessed a mean of 60 days after onset of the first covid-19 symptoms, only 18 (12.6%) were completely free of any covid-19 related symptom, while 32% had one or two symptoms, and 55% had three or more. None of the patients had fever or any signs or symptoms of acute illness. Worsened quality of life was reported by 44% of patients. A high proportion of patients still reported fatigue (53%), dyspnea (43%), joint pain (27%), and chest pain (22%).

The study has limitations as it is based on a single centre with a relatively small number of patients and without a control group of patients discharged for other reasons. There is also a lack of information on symptom history before acute COVID-19 illness and no information on symptom severity. Furthermore, the study authors point out that patients with community acquired pneumonia can also have persistent symptoms.

This is further evidence of a “long tail” of COVID-19 related illness.

In South Africa, we are seeing numerous complaints of a debilitating post COVID headache that can persist for up to weeks. The advice is not to use Midazolam.

There is a study looking into the long term health effects of COVID-19 on hospitalised patients in the UK.

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