Panama seeks to address lingering effects of Covid-19

By Ana de Leon

Panama City, Sep 17 (efe-epa).- Fatigue and a slight tremor in one of her hands are the symptoms that prompted 68-year-old coronavirus survivor Iris Sanchez to be the first in line Thursday for the opening of Panama’s new Post-COVID Clinic, the first establishment of its kind in Latin America.

Sanchez, who returned this week to her job with the Central American nation’s CSS social security agency, told Efe that she was hospitalized in July for respiratory problems and a bad cough.

“I had a blood oxygen saturation of 92 percent, when the normal values are between 95 percent and 99 percent,” she said.

“The tests and exams vary according to the patient’s case,” Dr. Tania Chung told Efe as she examined Sanchez, while the doctor’s assistant, Mitza Rodriguez, scheduled a follow-up appointment for the sexagenarian in two weeks.

The clinic is part of an effort to create “a system of attention for patients who have had Covid and have been left with some type of consequence,” CSS director Enrique Lau Cortes said.

CSS will staff the clinic with “specialists in all of the required areas” and technicians to carry out lab tests and evaluate patients’ respiratory capacity, the director told Efe.

The plan calls for opening additional clinics, including as many as four more just in Panama City, a CSS source said.

And the operation will provide long-term monitoring for patients who need it.

Emotional disturbance has emerged as a common after-effect of Covid-19, along with respiratory difficulties and balance problems, Lau said.

Lingering impacts of coronavirus on mental health can take the form of “crying easily, insomnia, irritability, there are even cases of attempted suicide,” he said, adding that the Post-COVID Clinics will have mental health professionals available.

“This illness affects countless organs – not just the lungs – such as the heart, liver or kidneys,” said Dr. Dario Flores Figueroa, an infectologist who is advising the CSS on dealing with Covid-19.

Panama, with 103,466 confirmed coronavirus infections and 2,198 fatalities, is the Central American country hit hardest by the pandemic, but its 2 percent Covid-19 mortality rate is among the lowest in the region. EFE


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