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People who fully recover from Covid-19 can lose ‘20 to 30%’ of their lung function, some doctors find

Bill Bostock , Business Insider US
 Mar 13, 2020, 05:16 PM
A respiratory specialist encourages a patient to exercise in a hospital in Wuhan, China, in February 2020.
  • People who recover from the coronavirus can still be left with substantially reduced lung functions, doctors in Hong Kong have found after observing the first wave of discharged patients.
  • The doctors found a drop of 20% to 30% in lung capacity in two or three out of those 12 patients.
  • "They gasp if they walk a bit more quickly," said Dr Owen Tsang Tak-yin, according to the South China Morning Post.
  • While it's too early to establish long-term effects of the illness, scans of nine patients in the group suggested that recovered patients had sustained organ damage, the Post reported.
  • Out of a global total of 128,000 infections, some 70,000 have recovered so far. More than 4,700 have died.
  • The illness - which presents symptoms including fever, breathlessness, and a cough - affects the elderly and those with preexisting symptoms the most.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za. 

People who recover from the novel coronavirus can still be left with substantially weakened lung capacity, with some left gasping for air when walking quickly, doctors in Hong Kong have found.

The findings came after the Hong Kong Hospital Authority observed the first wave of patients that were discharged from the hospital and had fully recovered from COVID-19.

Out of 12 people in the group, two to three saw changes in their lung capacity.

"They gasp if they walk a bit more quickly," Dr Owen Tsang Tak-yin, medical director of the authority's Infectious Disease Centre, told a press conference Thursday, according to the South China Morning Post.

"Some patients might have around a drop of 20 to 30% in lung function" after full recovery, he said.

While it's too early to establish long-term effects of the disease, scans of nine patients' lungs "found patterns similar to frosted glass in all of them, suggesting there was organ damage," Tsang said, according to the Post.

As of Friday morning, 69,607 people have recovered from the coronavirus out of 128,392 confirmed cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 4,700 people have died of the disease.

The disease appears to affect the elderly or infirm worse than any other demographic, as the outbreak in Italy has shown.

"Among those who are infected, most will recover," World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday.

The most commonly-reported symptoms include a fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath, and some 80% patients will experience a mild illness, according to the WHO.

Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

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