Long-COVID: An evolving problem with an extensive impact

S Afr Med J. 2020 Nov 23;111(1):10-12. doi: 10.7196/SAMJ.2020.v111i11.15433.


Persistence of symptoms or development of new symptoms relating to SARS-CoV-2 infection late in the course of COVID-19 is an increasingly recognised problem facing the globally infected population and its health systems. 'Long-COVID' or 'COVID long-haulers' generally describes those persons with COVID-19 who experience symptoms for >28 days after diagnosis, whether laboratory confirmed or clinical. Symptoms are as markedly heterogeneous as seen in acute COVID-19 and may be constant, fluctuate, or appear and be replaced by symptoms relating to other systems with varying frequency. Such multisystem involvement requires a holistic approach to management of long-COVID, and descriptions of cohorts from low- and middle-income countries are eagerly awaited. Although many persons with long-COVID will be managed in primary care, others will require greater input from rehabilitation medicine experts. For both eventualities, planning is urgently required to ensure that the South African public health service is ready and able to respond.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Anosmia / physiopathology
  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / physiopathology
  • COVID-19 / therapy
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / physiopathology
  • Comorbidity
  • Dyspnea / physiopathology
  • Fatigue / physiopathology
  • Headache / physiopathology
  • Health Planning*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine*
  • Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Risk Assessment
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Factors
  • South Africa
  • Time Factors