Fears over long-term effects of COVID

Young people who contract a severe case of COVID-19 may face a life of disability, according to a report in The Australian newspaper.

“The COVID-19 pandemic could leave Australia with a long-term epidemic of people suffering from heart disease, lung scarring, diabetes and other chronic conditions …”

The newspaper is reporting on unpublished research from “the Australian National Phenome Centre, Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge in the UK and other agencies”.

Australia’s acting chief medical officer, Professor Paul Kelly, told The Australian that COVID-19 is “not just a disease of old people”.

“We don’t know yet whether these long-term effects are permanent, but certainly there is evidence of long-term issues with lung damage and damage of the blood vessels around the body – including the heart,” Prof. Kelly said.

The concerns were reported as Victoria recorded its most deadly day since the onset of the pandemic, with 18 people dying in the past 24 hours. The ‘good’ news was that 322 new cases of infection were announced, the lowest single-day tally of new cases in 12 days.

Premier Daniel Andrews unveiled new advertisements highlighting the seriousness of the disease at his daily press conference. In one, a patient who was in intensive care for 32 days says she fears she has suffered brain damage and she has nerve damage in her right hand.

“We are seeing some stability. That’s a good thing. But that’s not enough,” Mr Andrews said. And he assured Victorians that the state had more than enough N95 respirators for health workers.

Three schools in NSW were closed on Monday because students there were among that state’s 10 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday. NSW Health advised people who attended services at St Agatha’s Catholic Church in Pennant Hills last week to be alert for symptoms.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told her 11am press conference that her state was “about halfway” through a critical phase for infection rates. She said every resident should assume people they contact could have coronavirus. 

“We are doing okay, we are holding the line,” she said.

Nine reported that hundreds of people caught partying on far-north Queensland’s Wangetti Beach could face charges after allegedly breaching coronavirus restrictions early on Saturday.

Queensland police checked almost 10,000 vehicles over the weekend after the state’s border closed to travellers from NSW and the ACT. A total of 99 flights entered the state, with 4532 people processed at airports – 197 of whom were placed in quarantine. Six were refused entry. Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young warned those living in the “border zone” of Queensland and NSW to plan in case their travel exemptions were removed.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said a decision on stricter border closures would be made “as soon as (Dr Young) had concerns that there is any risk”.

ABC News reported that Australia’s pandemic death toll had jumped from 200 to more than 300 in just a week.

“It took 78 days to go from the first recorded death on 1 March. Then it took another 75 days to progress to the second hundred.

“Every one of the past 100 fatalities has been from Victoria, as have 199 of the past 200 deaths.”

However, the “daily percentage growth in cumulative cases” in Victoria has fallen to 3 per cent after being 15.7 per cent on 1 July, when new lockdown measures were enacted.

“ACT currently has the longest straight run without any new confirmed cases, tallying 30 days. It is followed by Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

“NSW, NT, Queensland, SA, Victoria and WA all have at least one active case. ACT and Tasmania have no active cases.

Of 8155 current cases, 658 or 8 per cent are receiving hospital care, with 51 of them in intensive care units.

“Nationally, about 350 cases a day are traced to known local sources, based on the seven-day moving average, compared with less than 150 a day during the first peak.

“A further 100 or more cases a day, on average, are determined to be community transmission, compared with less than 60 a day during the first peak.”

Nationally, 314 people have died 229 in Victoria, 52 in NSW, 13 in Tasmania, nine in WA, four in Queensland, four in SA and three in ACT.

Nine is reporting that in the past 24 hours, police fined 276 Victorians, including 37 who refused to wear a face covering while outside.

Twenty-five people were fined at vehicle checkpoints, and 74 were caught breaching Melbourne’s 8pm curfew.

Police carried out 11,091 vehicle checks, and 3879 spot checks on people at homes, businesses, and public places.

In Australia, young people aged 20 to 29 are the most likely age group to contract the virus.

Australian Medical Association vice-president Chris Moy said doctors were alarmed at the evidence emerging of long-term damage on the body’s organs.

“We are very worried about the long-term effects of this coronavirus,” he said. “The great fear in this is the unknown nature of this condition, which we haven’t really seen before. This is something that we could pay for later.”

Seven News recently reported that COVID-19 patients who developed acute respiratory distress syndrome a life-threatening lung injury due to infection and had to be hospitalised in an intensive care unit were more likely to have long-term scarring in their lungs.

There are also studies finding heart damage in 20 per cent of COVID-19 patients.

There are concerns about the condition’s effect on the kidneys, brain, and nervous system.

“‘Long haulers’, the COVID-19 survivors with lingering problems, should especially pay attention to breathing problems, chest pain and fatigue,” Dr Roger Alvarez, a pulmonologist at the University of Miami Health System, said in a statement.

Are you concerned about the as yet little-known consequences of COVID-19?

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Written by Will Brodie

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