More than nine months into his recovery from Covid-19, journalist Jasim Uddin, 39, still feels physical weakness and at times experiences shortness of breath. He now needs to take medicines daily.
Jasim said, "Two months after recovering from Covid-19 in August, I had to undergo an MRI and a chest X-ray. I am taking regular medication but not feeling well yet."
"I have to use an inhaler twice a day," he added.
Farhad Hossain, 35, who works in a private organisation, recovered from coronavirus three months ago. But he has not been able to leave his illness behind and experiences depression all the time. Farhad also suffers from headache and urine problem consistently.
Like Jasim and Farhad, most patients who recovered from Covid-19 have reported back with various physical complications such as fatigue, depression and shortness of breath.
Prof Ridwanur Rahman, medicine specialist and head of the research centre at Universal Medical College, said the exact causes of post-Covid-19 complications are not yet known. Post-Covid patients should be in regular touch with doctors.
In the meantime, the Dhaka Medical College Hospital has launched a "Post Covid Clinic" for the virus-recovered patients who suffer from various health problems.
Some 20 patients on average receive treatment at the clinic every Sunday and Wednesday from 10 am to 1 pm, said Dr Forhad Uddin Hasan Chowdhury, registrar at the Department of Medicine of Dhaka Medical College.
Dr Forhad also said, "People come to our post-Covid Clinic with many problems including fatigue, various types of pain, weight loss, and hair loss. Lung infections are more common in patients who recovered from severe Covid-19 illness."
Post-Covid patients are given medication and counselling, he added.
In Bangladesh, 4.96 lakh people have recovered from Covid-19 so far. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), long Covid is not yet fully understood, but a considerable number of people are reporting ongoing symptoms at 12 weeks.
Known manifestations of post-Covid conditions include a range of troubling physical symptoms, such as severe fatigue and increased risk of damage to the heart, lungs and brain. Available data indicate that about a quarter of those with Covid-19 suffer from symptoms 4–5 weeks after testing positive, and about one in 10 experience symptoms after 12 weeks.
All of this can seriously impact people's ability to work and enjoy a good quality of life, said the WHO.
Commenting on long Covid, WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr Hans Henri P Kluge said, "Covid-19 has caused a great deal of suffering among people across the region, with reports of long Covid an extra cause for concern. It is important that patients reporting symptoms of long Covid are included as part of the COVID-19 response to mitigate some of the longer-term health impacts of the pandemic.
Patients suffer from a variety of physical and mental problems, including the inability to work due to post-Covid complications, and fatigue. 70% of patients with post-Covid complications recover within three to seven months. The rest are suffering from chronic complications. Post-Covid complications are more common in patients who need oxygen.
According to a UK new research, almost 48,000 patients hospitalised with Covid-19 between January and September 2020 also show almost 30% were readmitted to hospitals within five months of being discharged, at a rate 3.5 times greater than other outpatients.
This, the study suggests, is down to "elevated rates of multi-organ dysfunction", with older people and minority groups hit harder.
Respiratory disease was also diagnosed in almost 30% of the patients after discharge, with around 40% of those having no prior history. Diabetes and major adverse cardiovascular events were particularly common amongst the post-discharge medical issues.
A recent Lancet study found 75% of discharged Covid patients still had at least one lingering health problem six months later, in a cohort study of 1700 people from Wuhan, where the virus first took hold.