Australia lags on long COVID recognition

(AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Long COVID should be recognised as a chronic medical condition to allow more Australians to access appropriate care, health experts say. 

As the nation grapples with increasing virus spread, Australia’s peak physiotherapy body is calling for federal, state and territory governments to fund treatment for the condition.

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) wants a national long COVID tracking and data collection system established to better understand the condition’s prevalence.

Estimates indicate up to 30 per cent of people will experience COVID-19 symptoms for 12 weeks or longer after their infection, but a more precise number is not known due to poor data collection. 

After contracting COVID-19 early in the pandemic, APA President Scott Willis is still suffering from the after-effects. 

“I know first-hand the ongoing and debilitating impact of this condition,” he said in a statement.

“We need government to acknowledge long COVID and respond with appropriate and accessible rehabilitation pathways.”

Dr Willis is particularly concerned about access to long COVID care for people living in regional and rural Australia.  

Australia has lagged on planning for long COVID and a rehabilitation program is well overdue, he said. 

“We know that physiotherapy rehabilitation programs can ease fatigue and improve the mood and health of people living with long COVID, which leads to increased productivity,” Dr Willis said.

“The health system must be flexible and rapidly respond with public funding to properly support the growing numbers of affected Australians, as is being done around the world.”

Australia recorded more than 53,000 new cases and 59 deaths on Friday.


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