Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony is cautioning the nation against adopting a cavalier approach to COVID-19, noting that while the severity of the illness varies, some people suffer severe long-term effects weeks and months after the illness should have subsided.
The Minister said he is concerned that people may be shirking the COVID-19 protocols because they see many people become ill with the milder forms of the disease and many who are asymptomatic, recover well. However, some ‘recovered’ patients have also been experiencing symptoms weeks and months after the illness is supposed to have worn off. These range from severe fatigue to heart failure.
“The latest one maybe about a week ago that emerged is that they are seeing cases where persons who had COVID-19, three months after, now have myocarditis which means that the muscle of the heart is being infected or there is some inflammation there and they are attributing that to the virus. They are also seeing that with many of the other organs in the body,” Dr. Anthony explained.
Other health complications post-infection include blood clots and blood vessel problems while there is a significant impact on mental health particularly affecting mood. Surviving COVID-19 can also make a person more likely to later develop post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety.
Minister Anthony explained that conditions like these are now emerging and have prompted global research by scientists to determine the actual long-term effects of COVID-19. It was noted that there is a system already in place to monitor these possibilities.
In the wake of these findings, Dr. Anthony is urging the public to safeguard themselves from infection.
Meanwhile, the Minister spoke about the successful use of convalescent plasma to aid patients’ recovery. This treatment entails transfusing plasma from the blood of recovered patients into critically-ill patients. The blood of recovered patients often develop high levels of antibodies which are natural defences against the disease.
“We have been encouraging people who have recovered to come forward, make the donation at the Blood Bank [National Blood Transfusion Service]so that we can get the convalescent plasma and use it on patients who are sicker,” Minister Anthony said.
According to the Health Minister, as of Friday, September 25, there were 2,709 cases of COVID-19. Some 1,881 of these persons have recovered, while 74 persons have died.
Minister Anthony again reiterated calls for the public to observe the COVID-19 emergency measures including the correct and consistent use of masks, practising social distancing, and practising good hand hygiene.