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Vandine: Covid-19 effects linger

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People infected with Covid-19 in Russey Keo district, Phnom Penh last year. Hong Menea

Vandine: Covid-19 effects linger

Around one quarter of patients who recover from Covid-19 experience some form of mental illness, along with ongoing physical symptoms, said a senior Ministry of Health official.

Citing a new study, ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told reporters on March 17 that between 23 and 26 per cent had developed mental health problems. They were also more likely to feel exhausted and lack energy, while many of them appear to be more susceptible to catching the virus again.

“Each case depends on the individual. Everyone’s organs respond and develop differently to infection. Another factor is the way somebody’s body produces antibodies. A person’s lifestyle and general health are also factors in whether someone experiences a mild or serious illness,” she said.

The study suggested that there some survivors have symptoms that might persist for a year after their recovery. These symptoms may include fatigue or a feeling of weakness when breathing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, pain in the joints and legs, chest pain, memory problems and insomnia, muscle aches or headaches, a faster heartbeat, or depression, despair, or anxiety.

“The above-mentioned symptoms may pass in less time, or even remain for longer. It very much depends on the continuing care the patient receives as well as whether they get enough exercise. A relaxed living environment also has a significant effect on a person’s recovery,” Vandine said.

She added that it is very important to avoid re-infection – which can adversely affect some organs, such as the nervous system, heart, liver and kidneys. Scientists have not yet been able to confirm to what degree or for how long it affects the organs, so further studies will be needed in the future.

Khouth Sophak Chakrya, 47, who recovered from Covid-19 almost one month ago, said that the report told him that scientists have proven what he knew. Omicron was not merely a ‘common cold’, as some people thought.

“I experienced this virus, and feel like I barely escaped death. During my 7 days of home treatment, my symptoms included shortness of breath and pain in my joints, legs and back. It made it impossible for me to sleep on a flat surface and I completely lost my appetite. I did not experience a loss of smell or taste,” he said.

Despite having recovered, Sophak Chakrya’s health is still not as good as it was before he was infected. He still felt short of breath, had joint pains, and had an itchy throat and dry cough. He also felt chest pains and occasional pain in his kidneys – which may be linked to his diabetes,

“Psychotherapy is very important for those who are suffering or recovering from Covid-19, so the ministry, or families should make sure patients have access to counselling,” he said.

Sophak Chakrya recommended that patients, as well as those who have just recovered, should relieve their stress by listening to music, reading or listening to the teachings of the Buddha. Exercise was also important, he said, adding that practising the three dos and don’ts was also crucial.


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