Researchers have observed that many patients remain in poor health for several weeks after contracting the coronavirus, sometimes with very severe symptoms.
On Thursday, the WHO drew further attention to the post-Covid-19 syndrome that many people suffer from - so called 'Long-Covid' - after being infected with the virus.
“The burden is real and it is significant: about one in ten Covid-19 sufferers remains unwell after 12 weeks, and many for much longer,” WHO Europe director Hans Kluge said at the online press conference.
A new guidance document on 'Long-Covid' is now being sent by the health organisation to European decision-makers.
“As with any new disease, so much was and remains unknown,” he added. “As the pandemic has evolved, professionals and patients alike have mapped a path in the dark.”
“We need to listen” to the sufferers of post-Covid-19 syndrome, “and we need to understand,” Kluge said. Their voices need to be heard “to understand the long-term consequences” of the disease.
- Infections down but Europe is still vulnerable, WHO warns
- More than 760,000 people in Belgium have tested positive for Covid-19
Statistics relayed by the WHO indicate that about a quarter of patients still have symptoms four to five weeks after testing positive and about one in 10 patients still experience symptoms after 12 weeks.
The syndrome manifests itself in particular through a series of physical symptoms, such as extreme fatigue and an increased risk of heart, lung and brain damage.
The WHO points out that many people suffering from the syndrome have been unable to access health care services and to find the right course of action, and calling on governments to react.
The organisation also called on governments to manage the wider consequences of post-Covid syndrome, including addressing employment guarantees, policies for payment of remuneration in the event of illness and access to disability benefits.
Kluge stressed the need for more national and international studies to understand the clinical effects of post-Covid syndrome. "We still have too little information on this syndrome," he concluded.
The Brussels Times