The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) confirmed that it has launched a study on the after-effects of COVID-19 experienced by patients even when the virus is no longer detected in their systems. The ministry informed the coronavirus advisory panel of the study on Sept 24. The study focuses on discovering the ratio of patients who continue to suffer from the lingering after-effects of COVID-19, such as breathing difficulty and loss of taste. It will also look into how long such after-effects last post-recovery. The study may help scientists to develop an effective cure for the virus.
In a past Italian study on COVID-19 after-effects, 87% of 143 COVID-19 patients were reported to have complained of fatigue, shortness of breath, and/or joint pain for as long as 2 months on average after the onset of the illness. In another study conducted in the U.S., 35% of 270 subjects answered that they still felt unwell two to three weeks after receiving the test results.
The MHLW study will focus on shortness of breath and the loss of taste/smell in particular. The severity of the illness and changes in the symptoms will be assessed using chest CT (Computed Tomography) scans and questionnaires. A separate study is being conducted to determine the role played by the patients’ genes in the course of the illness in the hopes of shedding light on how the virus takes hold in people’s bodies.
On the same day, the advisory panel agreed that the rate of decline in the number of the coronavirus cases is slowing nationwide since late July.
Researchers on the panel discussed the preliminary day-to-day number of new cases by region. The daily number of new cases in Tokyo, which had been trending trended downward, had flattened by late August. Daily new cases increased in Miyagi, Chiba, Kyoto, and Osaka Prefectures in September. This trend is likely a result of more people returning to work and dining out in groups. The panel expected more people would attend events and take trips going forward and strongly advised wearing a mask and frequent ventilation of rooms.
Additionally, in conjunction with the application of the Infectious Diseases Control Law to the new coronavirus (a designated infectious disease), the panel took up the issue of clarifying who is eligible for hospitalization, such as the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, by government ordinance.