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Covid-19 Pandemic

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 25 November 2021

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Ceisteanna (373)

Sorca Clarke

Ceist:

373. Deputy Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Health if consideration is being given to classifying Covid-19 as a long-term medical condition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [58250/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

COVID-19 is a new disease so information on it, its features, incidence and its course are still emerging. The natural history, clinical course and consequences of COVID19 are still not completely understood. It is recognised that most patients with COVID-19 return to baseline after acute infection with SARS-CoV-2, but a proportion report ongoing health issues.

The number of people that are affected with longer term sequelae after acute COVID-19 remains unknown, but published reports indicate that approximately 10– 20% of COVID-19 patients experience lingering symptoms for weeks to months following acute SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Several organisations and societies have proposed different definitions based upon the constellation of symptoms that affect people after acute SARS-CoV-2 infection. To aid recognition and management of those affected, the WHO has recently through a global consensus process proposed a working clinical case definition of Post COVID-19 syndrome occurring 3 months from the onset of COVID-19, with symptoms that last for at least 2 months and cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis. Common symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, cognitive dysfunction and others which generally have an impact on everyday functioning. Symptoms may be new onset, following initial recovery from an acute COVID19 episode, or persist from the initial illness. Symptoms may also fluctuate or relapse over time. However, the WHO notes that this definition may change as new evidence emerges and our understanding of the consequences of COVID-19 continues to evolve.

Patients with persistent symptoms following COVID-19 infection may be followed up by their GP or in hospital settings as clinically appropriate. People in the community who are concerned about persistent symptoms following Covid-19 should contact their GP in the first instance. Treatment is currently focused on management of specific symptoms.

Specific guidance on the treatment of 'Long COVID' is presently under development both here and internationally. The HSE is currently assessing need and the best way to care for those impacted by Long COVID to ensure the appropriate supports are in place. My Department, through the Health Research Board, continues to fund research into the clinical impacts of COVID-19. My Department will also continue to develop an understanding of the implications of Long COVID to inform policy as appropriate.

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