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Experts call for more research into long COVID, as study reveals high prevalence in WA

Experts call for more research into long COVID, as study reveals high prevalence in WA

Researchers say more support is needed for patients suffering from long-term illness associated with a COVID-19 infection, with new data showing a large number of West Australians have been left unable to work due to their crippling symptoms.

The Australian National University (ANU) study surveyed 11,000 people who tested positive to COVID during a significant outbreak of the Omicron variant in WA in 2022.

The study published in March found almost 20 per cent of those patients were still suffering symptoms of fatigue, memory loss and concentration difficulties three months after they first became sick.

Lead researcher Mulu Woldegiorgis said there was little pre-existing data available on the topic, but that the new research suggested there was a high rate of long-term COVID-19 symptoms in WA.

In their report, Dr Woldegiorgis and her colleagues acknowledged one of the limitations of the ANU survey was that it relied on subjective symptom descriptions from patients, and the reported impact of their symptoms on work or study was not independently verified.

Dr Woldegiorgis said it was important for patients’ symptoms to be taken seriously.

“I think it’s real and it needs more investigation,” she said.

“When we see its impact on work or study, more than one in six of those who used to work before their infection were not able to fully return to work or study due to their ongoing symptoms.”

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