NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has said recovered cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas continue to have suffer debilitating health issues, some of which could last for “many years or a lifetime” as he warned that the full impact of the virus remains unclear.
The prime minister made the statement during debate on a resolution to extend the emergency orders to October 31.
The resolution has been passed in both houses of Parliament.
“Let us continue to pray for the recovery of those in hospital or at home, who are still struggling with COVID-19, including those with long-term health effects,” Minnis said.
“This pandemic is the most significant national emergency in our modern history.
“Bahamians have died Mr Speaker. Bahamians are sick
“There are those who have long-term health effects, some of which may last for many years or a lifetime.
“There are people who had the virus some time ago and supposedly recovered, yet they still suffer debilitating and lingering effects.
“No one knows how long these effects will last.
“Many are suffering.”
The prime minister noted that while vaccines are in development, when an approved vaccine will be ready and available to be deployed around the world remain unknown.
According to available data, most people with COVID-19 experience mild symptoms to moderate illness and between 10 percent and 15 percent of cases progress to severe disease, while five percent become critically ill.
According to a World Health Organization report on the long-term effects of COVID-19, mild cases typically recover after two weeks and recovery in severe cases can take six weeks.
But for some cases, symptoms linger or reoccur for weeks or months following the initial recovery.
The virus can also cause damage to the heart, lung tissue, affect cognitive impairment, prompt depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and well as joint pain and fatigue, according to the report, which was updated on September 9.
The most common lingering symptoms affecting over 40 percent of recovered cases include fatigue and cough.
Over 30 percent of recovered cases still experience congestion and diarrhea, while around 30 percent are left with a loss of taste, loss of smell, chest paint, confusion, headaches and body aches.
Fewer than 15 percent experience lingering nausea and diarrhea, and less 10 percent still deal with fevers, chills, loss of taste, and vomiting.
The data is derived from 274 patients in the United States between March and June who reported symptoms at the time of their positive COVID-19 test and had unresolved symptoms between 14 days and 21 days later as outpatients.
Fewer than 40 percent of cases experience lingering symptoms of diarrhea, congestion, dyspnea, nausea, sore throat.
Meanwhile, fewer than 30 percent of cases experience chest paint, abdominal pain, confusion and vomiting.
Additionally, the report noted among those 18 to 36 years of age, 20 percent or one in five cases reported that some symptoms were prolonged.
WHO said this can happen in mild cases of the virus.
It pointed out that these lingering symptoms presented though these cases were no longer infectious.
“Some patients develop medical complications that may have lasting health effects,” WHO said.
It continued: “COVID-19 can sometimes result in prolonged illness, even in young adults and children without underlying chronic medical conditions. There are many case reports from people who do not regain their previous health following COVID-19. Little is known about the clinical course of COVID-19 following milder illness.”
A 2003 WHO study showed that there was a persistent and significant impairment of exercise capacity and health status of survivors of SARS over 24 months, and 40 percent of people who recovered had chronic fatigue three and a half years after being diagnosed.