The coronavirus pandemic has created a new category of chronically ill patients, as data collected shows that one out of three people who get COVID-19 develop ‘long COVID’ syndrome.
In Cyprus, it would mean that more than 30,000 of the near 120,000 people who have been infected are suffering from long COVID, although there are no official figures.
In recent weeks, the Health Ministry has included in its daily update on new COVID-19 cases a section referring to ‘Post-COVID’ patients being treated in ICUs.
These patients are people who, despite shaking off the virus, are still in need of hospital care, with some remaining intubated with serious lung damage.
Currently, 12 Post-COVID patients are in state hospital ICUs.
Scientists have been warning that symptoms of Post or long COVID could persist for more than a few months, creating a new group of chronically ill people.
In comments to Phileleftheros daily, the head of the COVID wards at the Nicosia General, Costas Constantinou, said it is not only the people needing ICU treatment that are suffering long term effects.
“It includes patients currently in hospitals and described as ‘post-covid’ patients; most had to be admitted to an Intensive Care Unit and intubated.
“These people are no longer considered COVID patients as 20 days have elapsed,” said Constantinou.
He said most of these patients have now been moved to non-COVID beds, mainly the pulmonary ward, as they have serious respiratory problems.
Constantinou said that authorities in recent weeks have started to monitor and take notes, as a growing number of COVID-19 patients remain in a critical condition, despite shaking off the virus.
COVID-19 is a disease which affects many organs, said Constantinou, “this means that in most cases we can see the lungs are affected but other organs also, therefore, patients needed to be treated by specialist doctors”.
Doctors have tabled before the State Health Services Organisation (OKYPY) a proposal to set up specialised clinics to treat patients who develop long COVID.