The CIUSSS West-Central Montreal regional health authority announced the opening of a clinic for patients with persistent symptoms of COVID-19 and Lyme disease at the Jewish General Hospital on Monday.
“Although most of the people who get COVID-19 recover within a few weeks, some — even those who had mild versions of the disease — might have symptoms that last a long time afterward,” Dr. Karl Weiss, chief of the Jewish General Hospital’s division of infectious diseases, noted in a statement. “These symptoms can be disabling, making it difficult to perform daily activities or to return to work or school. They may vary in intensity from day to day, and over time.
“Research and knowledge about treating this illness known as long-COVID syndrome is emerging and rapidly evolving. Our goal in establishing the referral centre is to provide patients with leading-edge care, while improving our understanding of the disease.”
Quebec announced in May it would open 15 clinics specializing in long COVID and Lyme disease, including five referral centres and 10 satellite clinics.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report nearly one in five people who have been infected with COVID-19 are still having symptoms of long COVID. A Statistics Canada study released in October found 1.4 million Canadians reported having lingering symptoms of COVID-19 three months after infection — almost 15 per cent of those who were infected. Among the lingering symptoms reported were tiredness, fatigue, brain fog, coughing and shortness of breath.
The clinic will also offer care to those with Lyme disease whose symptoms persist after standard treatment has ended. Since 2011, there has been a significant increase in the number of Lyme disease cases reported to the public health authorities in Quebec, as well as an increase in the proportion of cases that acquired the infection in the province, Quebec’s Health Ministry reported.
To be eligible for treatment at the clinic, clients must be at least 18 years old, have tested positive for COVID-19 using a PCR test or via a health-care provider, and have COVID-19 symptoms that were not present before the infection and that have persisted for 12 weeks or more. Applicants must also be residents of Quebec or students residing in Quebec. Applicants for Lyme disease study must have tested positive and have persistent symptoms.
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