MP He Ting Ru
MP Dennis Tan

Ms He Ting Ru asked the Minister for Health in view of the large number of COVID-19 cases who have since recovered from an acute infection (a) whether the Ministry will publish its study on the prevalence and effects of long COVID in Singapore; and (b) whether the Ministry will offer dedicated long COVID clinics or services that are equipped to address specific problems faced by this group of patients.

Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong asked the Minister for Health (a) what are the tracking mechanisms in place to detect people suffering from long COVID; (b) whether there has been any updated study or statistics after August 2021 showing the number of people who have long COVID; (c) whether the ratio of people with long COVID over those who have no symptoms after their initial recovery from COVID-19 has increased since August 2021; and (d) what are the procedures in place to support care and recovery from long COVID.

Mr Ong Ye Kung: This will also address Written Question No. 36 asked by Ms He Ting Ru1 for the sitting on 4 April 2022.

“Long COVID” is not a formal medical condition or diagnosis. It is a general reference to varied persistent symptoms experienced by some persons after a COVID-19 infection. Persistent symptoms can also occur after recovery from many other infectious diseases. Persons who had influenza or the common cold may, for example, continue to have fatigue or a prolonged cough. 

The underlying reasons for these persistent symptoms after COVID-19 vary widely, as do the symptoms, and are under active research internationally. The Ministry of Health does not track the absolute number of all patients with persistent symptoms after COVID. 

Medical experts in Singapore expect a small proportion of patients from the recent Omicron surge to be affected by persistent symptoms. This is because such persistent symptoms are more commonly seen after severe COVID-19, and Omicron has led to fewer cases of severe infections compared to previous variants of concerns. Further, our population is also highly protected from severe COVID-19 through primary and booster vaccinations.

Most of the persistent symptoms, such as cough and fatigue, resolve on their own with time. But individuals with more severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath or chest pain, may require further medical assessment and care, and MOH advises these patients to seek medical attention. There is no single response to these persistent symptoms and treating physicians would be best placed to assess and advise patients on their management and recovery, and on the resumption of work, school and daily activities. As necessary, these persons will be referred for further care and support services based on their condition and medical needs.

Ministry of Health
4 April 2022

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