More than a quarter of people who have been infected with COVID-19 are symptomatic for at least six months after their initial diagnosis, latest research reports.

According to a Switzerland-based research study, the coronavirus can cause prolonged physical and emotional damage and should be recognised as a serious concern by healthcare organisations.

Extreme exhaustion, breathing difficulties and low moods are the most common symptoms of ‘Long COVID’.

In 2020, more than 400 COVID-positive individuals in Zurich tracked their symptoms for seven months. The majority were in their forties, with the median age being 47.

Nearly 90% of the group experienced symptoms when they were first infected with COVID-19, with almost 20% receiving medical care.

The results also found that more than 25% of participants still experienced COVID-19 symptoms for up to eight months after first being infected.

More than half of those with ‘Long COVID’ suffered with extreme exhaustion and around 25% experienced breathing difficulties and low moods.

The findings also revealed that ‘Long COVID’ impacts women more than men.

Similarly, it was revealed that individuals who received medical care were more likely to have lasting COVID-19 symptoms compared to those who did not.

The team said: “The findings underscore the need for the timely planning of resources and patient services for post-COVID-19 care.

“This cohort study based on a representative, population-based sample of SARS-CoV-2 infected individuals found that 26% did not fully recover within 6-8 months after diagnosis and 40% had at least one further healthcare contact related to COVID-19.”

They added: “These findings underline the need for the timely planning of healthcare resources and services tailored to the needs of individuals suffering from post-COVID-19 syndrome.”

The full research study can now be found in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

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