Muscat: A small section of people infected with COVID-19 continue to show symptoms of the disease, even three months after they were first infected, a doctor at the Royal Hospital has said.
These symptoms were seen when the people in question underwent follow-up PCR tests well after they were first diagnosed with the disease, said Dr Faryal Al Lawati, a senior consultant of infectious diseases, and the head of the Contagious Diseases Unit at the hospital.
However, she added that it was difficult to determine whether these symptoms were due to the coronavirus, or any other disease, and advised the authorities concerned to take up increased monitoring measures and intensive studies.
Al Lawati said that many cases of infection are inadvertently imported by arriving passengers who fail to comply with home quarantine or institutional isolation.
She explained, “This behaviour has been the main source of new, doubly-mutated and rapidly propagating variants of the virus. The tragedy is that some of those who get infections and experience respiratory system inflammation symptoms still mingle with others, instead of isolating themselves.
“There is a concern that we might reach a stage where we will be unable to provide proper care to COVID-19 patients, if the numbers of infections keep rising. Also, full focus on COVID-19 patients will deprive other patients who need health services,” added the doctor
Although the Ministry of Health is preparing more facilities to accommodate increasing numbers of COVID admissions, the doctor is also concerned that they might eventually run out of room to provide additional healthcare, because their capacity to do so is limited.
She added that after the country had seen a drop in COVID infections during December 2020 and January 2021, there has been an alarming increase in case numbers since February.
“The Sultanate is entering a new wave of COVID infection,” she said.
“The Supreme Committee may take more stringent measures to address the high rise of infection cases, which, if no action is taken at the right time, may go beyond the capacity of the healthcare system.
Al Lawati also added that more than 50 per cent of people admitted because of COVID-19 to ICUs suffered from respiratory complications that made them dependent on respiratory equipment while in hospital.
Speaking about whether or not a patient might contract COVID-19 twice, Dr Faryal Al Lawati said that two studies recently published by medical journals (one in the US, the other in Denmark) show that infection with the disease for a second time is possible.
A study published only two days ago indicated that COVID-19 patients may get the infection again, six months after the first infection.
The study proved that 0.65 per cent of a total of about 11,000 people who participated in the study were re-infected.
The results of the study indicate that cases of re-infection with COVID-19 were found in the age group of people aged 65 and over, which is the most vulnerable segment of society.