70% of patients in Wuhan who recover suffer from symptoms after discharge

The study concurs with others that also describe long covid

From the beginning of the pandemic, Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan, the ground zero of the initial disaster, was one of the centres designated by the city authorities to treat patients infected with the new coronavirus. First to contain and then to stop the advance of the then unknown disease. Practically a year later, Wuhan is living in relative normality, like the rest of China, where the number of cases remains at 92,291 and deaths at 4,742. Far from the already almost 60 million official infections -in practice it could be ten or twelve times more, according to World Health Organization estimates- and the 1.4 million deaths in the world. China's National Health Commission, however, puts the number of infections at 86,464 and the number of deaths at 4,634.

Although the country seems to have won the battle against the virus, there are still many unknowns in the Asian giant regarding covid-19. About as many as in the rest of the world. For example, why did more than 70% of the covid patients who were cured in the first outbreak of the pandemic in Wuhan - in practice, there has not been a second wave, only episodic outbreaks - show at least one symptom of the disease days or weeks after they were discharged? The revelation was published on Tuesday in the official newspaper China Daily and coincides with other analyses made in other parts of the world.

This is the case with a small study done in the United Kingdom last summer. More than half of the patients with covid-19 have experienced some symptoms: shortness of breath, fatigue, anxiety and depression for two or three months after the initial infection. The research, led by scientists at Oxford University, examined the impact on 58 patients. Months later they had abnormalities in several organs. This is what is now known as long covid.

“I’ve been having COVID-19 symptoms for over 50 days without relief”

The results of the Oxford study have shown that two to three months after the onset of covid-19 64% of patients were persistently short of breath and 55% reported significant fatigue.

In the case of the Wuhan study, 1,733 patients discharged between January 7 and May 29 were followed for about six months. The symptoms they experienced were basically fatigue, muscle weakness, difficulty in falling asleep or anxiety. The results have also shown that six months after the onset of symptoms about half of the patients had at least one abnormal pattern on computerised tomography, a medical imaging technique that uses computer-processed combinations of multiple x-ray measurements taken from different angles to produce tomographic images of a body, allowing the inside of the body to be seen without cutting it open.

Patients who had been more severe during hospitalisation tended to show worse lung capacity and worse chest images. To date, 877,545 close contacts of those infected have been followed by doctors, of whom 11,875 remain under observation.

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