Monday 15 Jul 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 20): International SOS, one of the world’s leading health and security companies, has identified long Covid as a challenge for businesses in Malaysia and around the world, the CodeBlue health news portal reported.

Globally, increasing cases of long Covid are now being documented, as many people report symptoms related to Covid-19 months after infection, the report said, noting that International SOS is being increasingly called on by organisations to help them effectively manage this emerging and concerning phenomenon.

“As more Covid-19 cases are reported, Malaysia will have to prepare for the expected increase of those suffering from long Covid and provide the necessary support," International SOS medical director for Singapore and Malaysia Dr Chan Yanjun was quoted as saying.

"This is particularly important as we are in the process of moving into a possible ‘living with the virus’ phase. This means long Covid is something that Malaysian organisations have already faced, are facing, or will face in the future,” she said.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has said that as of Oct 30, a total of 5,193 patients have undergone treatment and monitoring rehabilitation programmes to address long Covid symptoms nationwide, involving 31 public hospitals, four university hospitals, and six private health facilities.

The five most frequently reported symptoms of long Covid are lethargy (71.8%), difficulty in breathing while performing activities (61.9%), coughing (13.6%), pain (13.2%), and difficulty sleeping soundly (11%).

“According to the Ministry of Health (MoH), from November 2020 to September this year, 2,712 long Covid patients were referred to the Covid-19 Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialised Services (CROSS) at Hospital Sungai Buloh within four to 12 weeks after infection. From this, 984 cases or 36.3% recovered completely from symptoms experienced, but 1,715 or 63.2% of cases continued to have persistent symptoms,” Dr Chan shared.

“It was found that 97.5% were patients who experienced serious Covid-19 infections in Categories Four and Five. However, it is important to note that even people who do not have symptoms when infected can also develop long Covid. These conditions can have different types and combinations of health problems for different lengths of time. They can last for months and significantly impact both the physical and mental health of the patient as well as their ability to cope with their situations,” she added.

Citing an ongoing study on the state of long Covid in Malaysia by Prof Dr Moy Foong Ming of the Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya, and her colleagues Prof Dr Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud and Prof Dr Noran Naqiah Hairi, International SOS said long Covid can reduce work productivity.

More than one-third of respondents reported that their work has been affected, and had to take leave or reduce work hours due to prolonged symptoms. Post-Covid patients who suffer brain fog may have their jobs affected.

“Covid-19 has amplified the importance of employee health, safety and wellbeing. Now, more than ever, organisations need personalised support based on their locations, environment and unique workforce needs,” said David Ng, International SOS managing director for Malaysia and Myanmar.

“With this emerging concern, Malaysian businesses must be prepared to respond efficiently, both addressing employee concerns and needs, as well as extending support to domestic managers, travellers and employees. As an employer’s duty of care, providing easy access to quality care treatment, which includes support for mental wellbeing and having empathy for long Covid employees, is crucial,” he added.

Edited ByS Kanagaraju
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