Total COVID Infections Surpass 15 Million

      April 11, 2022 12:31

      The cumulative number of coronavirus infections in Korea surpassed 15 million on Saturday or one-third of the population. But there seem to be no conclusive data what the long-term effects may be.

      Experts estimate that at least 10 percent of patients suffer from long-term side effects, but "long COVID" remains relatively unexplored because too many factors have to be sifted.

      The Korea National Institute of Health has been researching the long-term effects of around 1,000 COVID patients three and six months after contracting the virus and hopes to announce the results in the second half of this year.

      Frontline hospitals are responding as well. Several hospitals in Seoul and Busan have opened clinics exclusively for long-term sufferers.

      Hana ENT Hospital in Seoul, which opened its clinic last month, has so far only investigated 62 patients and found that two-thirds suffered from more than three side effects ranging from coughing and phlegm to chest pain, sore throats, loss of smell and taste, sleeplessness, indigestion, vertigo, ulcers and irregular heartbeat.

      COVID patients wait to see a doctor in Myongji Hospital in Gyeonggi Province on March 29.

      Dr. Lee Young-mee at the hospital said, "People in their 20s and 30s seem to suffer from more long-term effects, while elderly people display fewer symptoms, but the ones they suffer from tend to be more serious."

      People who smoke, are overweight or suffer from diabetes seem to have longer symptoms.

      There are ways to fight against long-term damage. "People who recover from COVID need to increase exercise intensity gradually," Lee suggested.

      But experts also recommend that patients return to their normal lifestyles without stressing their bodies too much. Lee Sang-deok the hospital said, "Difficulty breathing and chest pains can also be caused by anxiety, so an accurate diagnosis alone can help with a recovery. It also helps to listen to the experience of other patients and learn how they recovered."

      Meanwhile, the daily tally of new coronavirus infections stood at 9,928 as of Monday morning, below 10,000 for the first time since late February.

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