Long COVID: Lingering Challenges in the Wake of the Pandemic


HARARE – In a small, sunlit room adorned with vibrant paintings, the air hangs heavy as Munyaradzi Chiripanyanga (42), a man of indomitable spirit, takes a deep breath. His journey, marked by adversity and unyielding determination, is etched on his face, where determination and hope merge with the lines of struggle.

Long Covid in Zimbabwe
Image: World Health Organization

Munyaradzi, once a picture of vitality, battles against the weight of his own body. Hypertension has become an unwelcome companion since COVID-19 infiltrated his life in 2019. 

The invisible enemy changed his path, leaving him grappling not only with the aftermath of the virus but also the burden of hypertension that followed in its wake.

As he sits there, the room filled with an array of medical equipment and reminders of his ongoing battle, the sound of his labored breathing fills the silence. 

Each inhalation is a testament to the resilience of a man who refuses to let his circumstances define him. Munyaradzi's breaths are not merely breaths—they are a testament to his unwavering determination to conquer the challenges that life has thrown at him.

Munya was diagnosed with Long COVID after failing to return to his normal life after being treated for COVID-19.

“I have been struggling with weight since I was very young, and it became worse after I was confirmed positive for COVID-19. I became hypertensive, and I have been on medication until now,” Munyaradzi shared.

Munyaradzi, who also lost his mother to COVID-19, has never been the same after the pandemic. The once-energetic stride has been replaced by cautious steps, and yet, Munyaradzi's spirit remains unbroken.

Amidst the physical constraints, Munyaradzi finds solace in the support of his loved ones. 

Their unwavering presence provides a lifeline during the darkest moments, reminding him that he is not alone in this arduous journey. 

Encouragement and care are the invisible threads that weave through his breaths, giving him the strength to persevere.

The impact of COVID-19 extends far beyond the acute illness experienced during the infection. 

As the world continues to battle the virus, a growing concern known as “Long COVID” or Post Covid Conditions (PCC) has emerged, leaving individuals grappling with persistent symptoms and debilitating effects.

In an interview with health expert Dr. Simba Mashizha, Long COVID is defined as the continuation or development of new symptoms three months after the initial SARS-CoV-2 infection, with these symptoms lasting for at least two months without any other explanation. He also emphasized the importance of seeking assessment and appropriate care at Long COVID clinics or the nearest health facility.

“Those who present symptoms need to visit a long COVID Clinic such as one at Parirenyatwa Hospital and Wilkins Infectious Diseases for an assessment and appropriate care. Where there are no Long COVID Clinics they should visit the nearest health facility for assessment and appropriate referral for care and treatment,” he added. 

Alves Phiri, the Assistant Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Coordinator in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, acknowledged that while the pandemic is over, cases of COVID-19 are still being confirmed. 

He said the Ministry of Health is still accounting for those people who are still contracting Covid-19 but it’s now monthly because fewer cases are being presented now.

Though Zimbabwe has made efforts to combat the virus, Phiri emphasized that there are people who are presenting with cases of long Covid. 

“The government with partners have opened clinics for Long covid and is also conducting researches find out more on this condition since it's still new.

“National campaigns addressing both COVID-19 and other diseases had been reduced. However, the importance of maintaining preventive measures and vaccination coverage remained paramount,” he added. 

The impact of COVID-19 extends beyond the initial infection, with Long COVID presenting ongoing challenges for individuals worldwide. 

While Zimbabwe has made progress in combating the virus, the government and health officials continue to emphasize the importance of preventive measures and vaccination coverage. 

Efforts are underway to address the persisting urban cases and ensure the overall well-being of the population. 

As of October 27, 2023, Zimbabwe recorded 265,847 confirmed cases, 5,718 deaths, and 260,065 recoveries from COVID-19.

Post a Comment