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Taipei hospitals offer clinics to treat long-term COVID symptoms

Taipei has opened 10 hospital clinics for patients with long-term COVID symptoms, otherwise known as long COVID. People who have it report symptoms like depression and shortness of breath, long after the initial illness. Taipei’s long COVID clinics will take a holistic approach to patient care, providing both physical and psychological support as needed.

Since the start of the pandemic, Taiwan has reported more than 16,000 COVID cases. About 10% of patients are known to have experienced long COVID, with symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety and depression persisting even three months after recovery.

For instance, one case quit her job after being diagnosed with COVID. After recovery, she was unable to regain employment and experienced intense stress. To help COVID patients like her, Taipei has opened specialized clinics at five branches of its hospital network, as well as at National Taiwan University Hospital, Tri-Service General Hospital, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, MacKay Memorial Hospital, and Taipei Municipal Wanfang Hospital.

Liu Hsing-cheng
Taipei City Hospital Songde Branch
Thirty-six percent of these patients experience distress significant enough to meet the threshold for post-traumatic stress disorder. There are more women than men. Overall, about 30% of patients experience anxiety and depression among other symptoms.

The first four weeks after COVID infection are considered the acute phase. After this period, the body starts to recover from the disease. But COVID can cause pathological changes to the body and give rise to severe long-term effects. They include prolonged coughing, fatigue, shortness of breath and depression. Taipei’s long COVID clinics will provide care by specialists in infectious diseases, chest medicine and psychiatry.

Feng Jia-yih
Taipei Veterans General Hospital
Chest doctors will screen the patients first, assessing their condition and gauging parameters. Then the patients will be referred to the specialists they need. We’ve taken in about 400, 500 COVID patients. About 200 of them came back after recovery, and nearly 100 of them had to be referred to specialists.

NTU Hospital has produced an instructional video, showing simple rehabilitation exercises that COVID patients can do at home after recovery. Health experts are taking action to help patients on the long journey to a full recovery.

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