While the number of new daily cases of COVID has plummeted in recent days, cohealth’s work responding to the impacts of the virus continues, both in helping to prevent new cases, as well as helping those who are still recovering from COVID.
Among those people who continue to be supported by cohealth are those COVID positive patients who are suffering from lingering symptoms.
While COVID symptoms typically last 10-14 days, those with ‘long-COVID’ can continue to experience symptoms for 20 or 30 days, or alternatively may have no symptoms, but continue to return positive COVID results well beyond 14 days. The medical and research community are continuing to come together to define what ‘long COVID’ is and how it manifests in the population.
cohealth GP, Dr Catherine Orr, says that the number of cohealth patients with long COVID is low. Among the patients cohealth is supporting is a man who was still in isolation at Day 55 because he had a cancer diagnosis and was immune-compromised, causing his swabs to keep coming back positive. A woman still had symptoms six weeks after testing positive. She finally tested negative but at the five week mark, her husband tested positive, leaving them both in quarantine again.
“People with long-COVID need extra care and support due to the amount of time they are required to self-isolate. Staying isolated for 20 or 30 days can be very taxing on people’s mental health,” said Dr Orr.
“For students living in sharehouses, or rooming house residents, self-isolating for weeks means staying confined to just one room, and having meals brought to you,” she said.
Anuj, 22, is an IT student who lives in a sharehouse in Melbourne’s inner north. He was being supported by cohealth’s COVID+ Pathways program when he was identified as a long-COVID patient.
“My symptoms just seemed to go on and on,” Anuj said. “I didn’t want my housemates to catch the virus, so I had to stay alone for a long time. I don’t have any family here. It was a pretty lonely and isolating time,” he said.
As a patient of the COVID+ Pathways program, cohealth stayed in regular and close contact with Anuj through daily phone calls to check on his symptoms and connect him with social supports as required. Dr Orr also advocated for him to receive frequent testing to ensure he could be released from self-isolation as soon as his results were clear.
“When I finally got my negative test result, I was so happy,” said Anuj.
“I could finally leave my home. I sent a text to Dr Orr to tell her thank you. She looked after me like she was a parent,” he said.