Recovered COVID patients are baffling doctors with complaints of freak pains, lungs that just won’t get back to normal, and a range of incapacitating psychological issues.
“What we are seeing is very frightening,” Prof. Gabriel Izbicki of Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center told The Times of Israel. “More than half the patients, weeks after testing negative, are still symptomatic.”
Izbicki is working on a study that involves follow-up with patients who were in hospitals or coronavirus hotels, looking at the aftereffects of the virus and trying to understand why patients continue to suffer long after being confirmed negative. “There is very little research about the mid-term affect of coronavirus,” he said, adding that it is much needed to guide doctors.
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In Bnei Brak, at Israel’s first community clinic, doctors have been seeing a spike in recent days in the patients with pains that appear to come from nowhere.
“It can appear in the arms, legs, or other places where the virus doesn’t have a direct impact, and if you ask about the pain level on a 1 to 10 scale, can be 10, with people saying they can’t get to sleep,” said Eran Schenker, director of the month-old clinic in Bnei Brak run by Maccabi Healthcare Services. “It’s something which we’re starting to see much more in the last week.”
Man coughing (iStock)
‘Broken’ by the virus
A patient from the clinic spoke to The Times of Israel on condition that her name is not published. She was diagnosed in March and tested negative a month ago. But the woman, a Bnei Brak resident in her 40s, still has severe fatigue and anxiety, and can only walk for a few minutes at a time.
Her husband, who also caught coronavirus in March and tested negative last month, now “feels like he’s broken,” she said. “He’s actually worse than he was when he was hospitalized.”
Her husband, 55, had some health problems before contracting coronavirus in March, but was active “from morning until night,” with plenty of energy. He is now extremely lethargic, can hardly walk, and has heart problems, she said.
This came as a particular shock to the family, as during his initial hospitalization in March and early April he did not require oxygen and X-rays showed no damage to his lungs. He was hospitalized again during April with pneumonia-like symptoms, and declared negative in May. But the man then developed pains and significant breathing problems, and has seen cardiologists, neurology experts, rehabilitation teams, and other professionals at the clinic.