Long Covid and its effects in NZ to be discussed

Rob Griffiths
Rob Griffiths
If the acute phase of Covid-19 can be compared to "a tsunami of healthcare need", long Covid will be a subsequent "flood of Noah-like proportions", the convener of a University of Otago symposium on Post-Acute Covid-19 Syndrome is warning.

University of Otago (Wellington) occupational and aviation medicine senior lecturer Dr Rob Griffiths said at least one in five people were expected to experience symptoms of Covid-19 more than three months after being infected, and Government agencies urgently needed to develop plans to provide ongoing support.

So, he has convened an online symposium. Long Covid: Journeying together through the fog, had been organised and would be held on Zoom on Wednesday.

It was expected to bring together a range of experts who would share the latest information on the condition, he said

The symposium is being organised by Te Whare Whakamatutu, the Rehabilitation Teaching and Research Unit at the University of Otago (Wellington), in collaboration with Victoria University of Wellington and AUT’s Centre for Person Centred Research.

"If the acute phase of Covid-19 can be compared to a tsunami of healthcare need, long Covid will be a subsequent flood of Noah-like proportions.

"The addition of long Covid to New Zealand’s existing chronic disease burden is likely to be significant, and we don’t yet know how large the problem will be — there are so many unknowns."

Dr Griffiths said while some people with long Covid could be supported to learn to manage the condition themselves, many would need to work with their community and primary care providers.

Others might suffer more serious symptoms, such as cardiac complications, and need high-level specialist care.

"We urgently need to look at how you bring all those services together — not just health services, but also social support and disability services.

"Particular attention is needed for those most likely to experience inequity of access, experience and outcomes in health, social and disability services, such as Maori, Pasifika and rural people."

He said the Ministry of Health was reviewing its framework for services for people with long Covid, and the symposium offered them a range of perspectives and voices that could inform its review.

The Maori Health Authority and Health New Zealand would share their thoughts on moving forward at the close of the symposium.

The online symposium will host short, sharp presentations from national and international experts from a wide range of disciplines, including physiotherapy, primary healthcare, psychology and occupational therapy, and will hear about the experience of living with long Covid.



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