The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that long Covid or post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC) can affect individuals who have had a SARS-CoV-2 infection at least three months prior. A diagnosis of long haul Covid will be given if the symptoms cannot eventually be attributed to some other existing medical condition and last for a minimum duration of two consecutive months.
Long Covid can negatively affect your business's productivity, as it is often accompanied by symptoms that can be debilitating and long lasting. Long haul Covid symptoms can make it difficult for executives to perform efficiently due to a lack the energy and ability to focus on their work. Here are the 4 major risks for your business:
1. Increased Absenteeism due to Long Covid
Even though covid infection numbers have decreased dramatically, experts are still seeing incredibly high absenteeism rates that are well above average. The Guardian reported that in 2022 in the USA, the average number of sick days per month was 1.58 million, with a total of 19 million for the year. In January 2022, the number of absences skyrocketed to 3.6 million, which is triple the number for that month when compared with pre-pandemic statistics.
Experts believe long Covid has a significant effect on absenteeism rates as 71% of patients in the US with long haul covid who applied for worker's compensation continued to have symptoms that required medical attention or were unable to work for over 6 months. With such a competitive job market and little social support in South Africa, many executives have no choice but to work while ill and take as much sick leave as legally possible to protect their income, leaving businesses to deal with the repercussions.
2. Decreased Productivity & Increased Presenteeism
Due to the sheer number of sick days associated with long Covid, it is easy to see how this will have an effect on your executives' productivity. Besides sick days, executives experiencing common long covid symptoms will have difficulty concentrating, suffer from fatigue, make mistakes, and will find it difficult to process new information.
Due to the shortage of employment opportunities in South Africa, many executives will make the tough decision to work while ill due to fear of losing their job, leading to increased presenteeism among your executive team. Presenteeism is an issue for businesses as although your executive is physically at work, their productivity will be low, leading to a decrease in overall business performance.
3. Long Covid and Labour shortages
New studies from around the world demonstrate how long Covid contributes to labour shortages due to persistent symptoms and disability. A sobering article published by Reuters shows a whopping three-quarters of Britain's workforce is working less due to long covid related illness. Nearly all of Britain's long Covid-19 sufferers reported that their condition prevented them from working effectively; 78% had to either reduce or alter their workload, and 19% were no longer able to work.
Another alarming report from Ireland shows that almost 90% of Irish people living with long Covid have still not recovered their health to the level it was before the pandemic. The study examined 988 participants and found that two-thirds of patients experienced crippling fatigue, stomach upset, memory issues, and chest and muscle pain. Participants also noted that they had new ailments that were not present before they contracted covid; these include:
4. High Long-Term Healthcare Costs
Long covid symptoms can cause severe and long-lasting damage to an individual's physical and mental health and will likely require expensive medical treatments or other forms of long-term care. Long haul covid patients are more likely to need ongoing treatment, such as physical therapy or counselling and may need to take extended leave from work. This can be expensive for businesses in the form of benefits, additional payouts, and increased medical aid contributions.
Now that you understand the devastating effect it can have on your organisation, it is imperative to take swift action in order to support your executives so you can safeguard your bottom line. But what causes long haul covid, and does it ever go away?
The cause of lingering symptoms or the development of new ones after a patient has initially recovered from Covid-19 is believed to be due to possible damage inflicted on their body when they were originally infected. It isn’t only the lungs, heart and brain that could have been affected; other organs in the body may also sustain injury, leading to an assortment of different signs and symptoms.
The prolonged impacts of Covid-19 may be caused by a combination of the body's immune response to the virus and direct viral damage. Despite this potential explanation, there is currently insufficient research evidence that can explain why people experience these longer-lasting symptoms.
If you are wondering how long covid symptoms last, the answer isn’t a simple one unfortunately. Treatment is still in the early stages, and there is not yet a clear consensus on the best approach. Some healthcare providers recommend the use of medications to manage specific symptoms, such as pain or inflammation. Others advise a more holistic approach, including lifestyle changes, such as exercise and stress management techniques, to help improve overall health and wellness.