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Chest x-ray of a patient presenting with pneumonia. The x-ray shows alveolar infiltrate in the middle lobe of the right lung
Many recovered coronavirus patients who did not need to be hospitalized are still facing serious health problems months later, according to a study commissioned by the Longfonds. While 94 percent say they do not feel as healthy as they did before the viral infection, some 60 percent of this group said they still have breathing symptoms which make it difficult to take a walk, and nearly half are unable to exercise, Longfonds director Michael Rutgers said in a statement. "We find this really shocking."

The Longfonds, treatment center CIRO, and Maastricht University surveyed 1,600 people who reported they had symptoms after recovering from the coronavirus. Rutgers said it was the first time that these patients have really come into the picture, as most were never treated in medical centers. Longfonds and CIRO said 91 percent of respondents were not hospitalized, and 43 percent were never formally tested for Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by this SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

These recovered patients told researchers that they still suffer from symptoms like tightness in the chest, fatigue, headaches, or shortness of breath almost three months after recovering. 85 percent of participants said they were in good health before getting the coronavirus. Only six percent said that their health is back to what it was before their infection. The average age of those surveyed was 53.

These people really need to be seen, heard and helped," Rutgers said. More than 1 in 5 received no follow up care, and were thoroughly dissatisfied by that. "It seems that we are dealing with an invisible group of patients who are in danger of falling through the cracks after coronavirus. We have to prevent that."

"The health of corona patients who went through corona at home is shockingly bad," Rutgers said "Until now, the focus was rightly on the people who ended up in the hospital or even on the ICU. But we should not forget this group of corona patients who were at home."

Longfonds wanted more people to register with the Dutch-language platform, which it launched along with another pulmonary organization to provide information and advice to people struggling with the aftereffects of a Covid-19 infection. Through the site they can use their PGO personal health monitor questionnaire to determine the severity of their own symptoms.

"We are learning more and more about the course of the disease. The questions and complaints must guide the care, treatment and supervision of this new patient group. In addition, further research into the long-term consequences of coronavirus is needed," Rutgers said.