Ontario’s COVID-19 advisory body is warning of the additional pressure long COVID could have on the province’s strained healthcare system.
The advice was issued on Wednesday by the Science Table, a group of independent experts offering their perspectives on provincial COVID-19 policy.
In a science brief, the panel of experts warned symptoms that persist after someone is infected with COVID-19 could reduce their quality of life and increase their reliance on others.
“There are over 100 symptoms reported in people with the post COVID-19 condition spanning multiple physiologic systems,” the brief read. “These burdensome symptoms appear to be associated with poor quality of life, reduced function and impairments in people’s ability to work and care for themselves.”
Data also suggests people can develop new chronic health conditions after being infected with COVID-19, the table said.
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However, more than two years into the pandemic, a consensus is still forming.
“Current evidence is not sufficient to make definitive conclusions about how many people with the post COVID-19 condition have overlapping impairments in their quality of life and ability to work or function,” the science brief said.
In a statement last month, the advisory body said it would be disbanded as of Sept. 6, with the long COVID study representing some of its final work.
The departing panel of experts said “substantial investment” in research, clinical care and health policy was necessary to care for people with post COVID-19 conditions in the future.
The impacts, the science table argued, could also extend beyond traditional medical care.
For example, someone whose ability to work is reduced because of long COVID may require government help from Ontario Disability Support Plan.
“A proactive and comprehensive strategy to manage the post COVID-19 condition needs to be developed by health systems and policymakers,” the science brief urged.
Global News contacted the Ontario Ministry of Health to ask for its response to the calls for a long COVID strategy.
“The ministry is aware of the report and is currently reviewing the findings,” a spokesperson said.