China's health authority has officially included damage to a number of internal organs as among the potential effects of the novel coronavirus, expanding medical insurance coverage for patients as the long-term toll of the disease emerges.
China's National Health Commission (NHC) in its guidelines on COVID-19 survivors said some recovered patients would require treatment for lung and heart damage, for movement problems from muscle loss, as well as for psychological disorders.
In addition to informing health workers about the potential long-term treatment needs of the patients, the authorities have classified these conditions as chronic diseases, allowing residents to claim for medical expenses under government-run medical insurance schemes.
"As the number of COVID-19 patients discharged from hospital increases, the rehabilitation needs have become prominent, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on Sunda, citing the NHC guidelines.
As of Saturday, 78,227 people in China have recovered from the disease since the government started action from January 23 to contain the infection.
The novel coronavirus, which emerged in Wuhan in December last year, has killed more than 312,000 people worldwide and infected over 4.6 million others.
As of Saturday, the number of coronavirus cases stood at 82,947 in China. Of the total cases, 86 patients were being treated.
The deadly virus has claimed 4,634 lives in the country, the NHC said.
Understanding is growing of the effects of the novel coronavirus on the organs of patients, even after they apparently recover.
While most patients, especially those with mild and moderate symptoms, can recover without long-term consequences to their health, studies indicated that those with severe symptoms can have organ damage and require a much longer time for rehabilitation, the report said.
The NHC said some COVID-19 patients might also develop heart problems such as angina and arrhythmia conditions that could result directly from the virus or arise after a patient has been bedridden for a long time.
The guidelines also list potential mental health problems resulting from COVID-19, including depression, insomnia, eating disorders and various changes in cognitive functions. Other problems identified in the guidelines include muscle and limb-function loss, the Post reported.