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Parliament launches inquiry into long COVID


Matt Woodley


5/09/2022 4:50:32 PM

The House Health Committee believes long COVID and repeat infections are emerging as a ‘significant health challenge’ for Australia.

Woman with long COVID
It is estimated that one in every five people diagnosed with COVID will still experience symptoms after a month.

The health, social, educational, and economic impacts of long COVID and repeated COVID infections will be the focus of a new inquiry by the House Health Committee.
 
Committee Chair Dr Mike Freelander, a paediatrician, said the inquiry will aim to draw on the ‘experience and insights’ of healthcare providers supporting patients with long COVID and/or repeated COVID infections, to better understand the impacts on Australia’s overall health system.
 
‘Currently we have a limited understanding of these issues,’ he said.
 
‘It is hoped that this inquiry will build a picture of the … impacts long COVID and repeated COVID infections are having on individuals, their families and the broader community, which can be used to inform public policy recommendations.’
 
Terms of reference for the inquiry include a focus on the patient experience, particularly diagnosis and treatment, the experience of healthcare workers providing services for these patients, and best practice responses – both domestically and overseas.
 
They also include:

  • research into the potential and known effects, causes, risk factors, prevalence, management, and treatment of long COVID and/or repeated COVID infections in Australia
  • The impacts in Australia on individuals who develop long COVID and/or have repeated COVID infections, their families, and the broader community, including for groups that face a greater risk of serious illness due to factors such as age, existing health conditions, disability and background
  • The impact of long COVID and/or repeated COVID infections on Australia’s overall health system, particularly in relation to deferred treatment, reduced health screening, postponed elective surgery, and increased risk of various conditions.
Current estimates suggest approximately one in every five people diagnosed with COVID will still experience symptoms after a month, while around 5% have symptoms that linger beyond three months. In June, before the peak of the most recent wave, close to half of Australia’s population was already estimated to have contracted the disease at some stage in 2022.
 
Deputy Chair Melissa McIntosh said the committee is also ‘particularly looking forward to’ hearing from individuals or loved ones of people with long COVID.
 
‘The committee hopes to engage with researchers, peak bodies, members of the public, mental health organisations, the Australian Government, and state and territory governments,’ she said.
 
Submissions from interested individuals and organisations can be made up until 18 November.
 
Further information about the inquiry is available at the committee’s website.
 
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