ANAKALUSUGAN party-list Rep. Mike Defensor on Sunday called on the Department of Health to keep track of “long” 2 million COVID-19 cases whose patients have been tagged as “recoveries” but have continued to suffer from persistent symptoms impairing their quality of life, including their employability.
“We would urge the DOH to establish an online registration system wherein Filipinos going through the so-called ‘long Covid’ condition can freely sign up and fill out a web-based survey,” he said.
“The DOH has to find ways to collect, investigate and then ascertain the extent of the problem of long Covid cases in the country, for the purpose of possibly recommending additional care programs for them,” he added.
A World Health Organization report acknowledging that a significant number of former Covid patients, including those who were never hospitalized, continue to endure symptoms from their acute illness, such as fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle or joint pain, headache, cough, chest pain, cognitive impairment, memory loss, anxiety and sleep disorders.
“Patients with long Covid report prolonged multisystem involvement and significant disability. Most had not returned to previous levels of work by six months. Many patients are not recovered by seven months and continue to experience significant symptom burden,” Defensor said, quoting a patient-led study entitled “Characterizing Long COVID in an International Cohort: 7 Months of Symptoms and Their Impact.”
The study was conducted by a team of American doctors and published in The Lancet medical journal.
The party-list lawmaker said the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. may have to provide supplemental coverage to long Covid cases, while the Employees’ Compensation Commission may have to extend them disability allowances on top of sickness benefits.
“Our cumulative Covid caseload has already surpassed 2.2 million, of which almost 2 million have been listed as recoveries.
Even if just 10 percent of the recoveries are found to be suffering from long Covid, this still translates into 200,000 Filipinos who may need further help,” he noted.