As Australia prepares to end mandatory coronavirus isolation rules Friday, new research shows that almost a third of adults have had symptoms of long COVID. In Canberra, a parliamentary health committee has heard clinics are being contacted by more patients struggling with ongoing ailments.
COVID-19 cases reported in Australia continue to fall, but the consequences of infection are still being felt.
A study published Wednesday by the Australian National University said that about one in three adults who have had the virus had symptoms that lasted for longer than four weeks, a common indicator of so-called “long COVID.”
Symptoms include extreme fatigue, heart palpitations, joint and muscle pain as well as insomnia and a cough. The study also stated that many patients with long COVID also experienced “low mood.”
In parliament in Canberra, the House of Representatives Health Committee started Wednesday an inquiry into long COVID and repeated COVID infections.
Melissa McIntosh, a lawmaker and deputy chair of the committee, told reporters in Canberra that the investigation would be thorough.
“We are hearing so much anecdotal reporting when it comes to long COVID and I, myself, experienced some form of long COVID after contracting COVID and still have the effects today many months after COVID as do many other Australians,” she said. “So, we want to collect the evidence, speak to people who have experienced long COVID and also to speak to their families, to speak to researchers and to organizations. Even mental health organizations.”
The Australian National University study has shown that females, young Australians, and those living in middle-income households have the highest probability of contracting the virus.
Australia on Friday will end compulsory five-day isolation for people who test positive to COVID-19, removing one of the country’s last remaining disease-control restrictions.
Australia did have some of the world’s toughest coronavirus measures. It closed its borders to most foreign nationals for more than two years and had some of the world’s longest lockdowns.
Government data shows around 5,000 COVID infections are now being reported each week on average, compared to more than 110,000 in mid-January 2022.