KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Almost 20,000 patients in Malaysia who recovered from the coronavirus are suffering from post-Covid-19 syndrome, or "long Covid", said Deputy Health Minister Noor Azmi Ghazali.
"As of November this year, there are a total of 19,890 Covid-19 patients who were given appointments for follow-up treatment at health facilities," Dr Noor Azmi said when replying to a question raised by Gabungan Parti Sarawak lawmaker Lukanisman Awang Sauni in Parliament on Wednesday (Dec 8).
Based on observations, he said that there were five main symptoms exhibited by those with post-Covid-19 syndrome - lethargy (78.9 per cent), breathing difficulties when performing certain tasks (52.9 per cent), coughing (18.1 per cent), insomnia (14.5 per cent) and anxiety (10.4 per cent).
He added that those suffering from long Covid would usually experience symptoms from four to 12 weeks after recovery, with some patients still experiencing symptoms after 12 weeks of recovery.
He noted that those suffering from long Covid symptoms would be referred to specialist doctors for follow-up treatment.
Dr Noor Azmi said that the follow-up treatment is based on the ministry's post-Covid-19 management protocol to ensure that those suffering from long Covid have access to treatment and medication.
Apart from the Sungai Buloh Hospital and the UiTM Training Hospital, long Covid patients have also been referred for treatment at 41 public and private health facilities, he said.
To a question by Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad of Pakatan Harapan (PH), Dr Noor Azmi said there was no specific data at the moment on the effects of long Covid on children.
Dr Dzulkefly had mentioned that there are studies abroad showing that one out of seven children who had contracted Covid-19 suffer from cognitive deficit.
Dr Noor Azmi said that treatment provided for long Covid patients cover a range of health issues not restricted to physical symptoms such as cardiovascular and respiratory issues but also neurological and mental health issues.
On a separate issue raised by PH assemblyman R.S.N Rayer, Dr Noor Azmi said that follow-up tests carried out on Malaysia's first Omicron variant case had returned negative.
He said that tests on five close contacts also returned negative results.
He added that the individuals had undergone strict quarantine measures prior to their release following the negative tests.
The first Omicron case in Malaysia was detected in a 19-year-old South African private university student in Ipoh, who had arrived from South Africa via Singapore on Nov 19.