Dr Michelle Trotman … to head new unit

Rishard Khan

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The Ministry of Health is in the process of creating a unit where former COVID-19 patients can receive respiratory physiotherapy, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said yesterday.

“We are establishing a unit within the North Central Regional Health Authority through the RHAs (Regional Health Authorities), where persons can undergo respiratory physiotherapy who have recovered from COVID-19,” Parasram said at the ministry’s virtual press conference.

“There’s a particular unit under Dr (Michelle) Trotman that would be established, hopefully soon and by next week we should have someone from that unit to talk about a little more detail about what is long COVID and how we treat it going forward.”

The virus, he said, results in changes to the respiratory system that leads to shortness of breath, persistent difficulty in performing simple tasks such as walking up a flight of stairs and persistent fatigue. In some cases, he said, it could take a patient months to recover.

“What we are seeing is that persons can do what we thought just like any other virus, recover in one to two weeks and go back to full function. What we are seeing is individuals taking as much as three to four months to actually recover if they recover their full function at all,” he said.

Parasram said the effects of this “long COVID” may fully be realised as the pandemic progresses.

According to BBC Health and science correspondent James Gallagher, long COVID is the lasting effect of the virus.

“Long COVID is not just people taking time to recover from a stay-in intensive care. Even people with relatively mild infections can be left with lasting and severe health problems.”

“There is no medical definition or list of symptoms shared by all patients – two people with long COVID can have very different experiences. However, the most common feature is crippling fatigue,” Gallagher wrote.

Parasram said the effects of this “long COVID” may fully be realised as the pandemic progresses.