The government on Monday was urged to offer more support to people who have recovered from Covid-19, after a survey suggested that a majority of those who end up in hospital are left with at least one persistent symptom of the disease.
Researchers from Chinese University followed up on 30 people who were in hospital with Covid-19 between February and April last year and whose bodies were later found to be clear of the virus.
Eighty percent reported that six months after they were released from hospital they still had at least one persistent symptom, such as fatigue, poor memory, sleeping problems, breathing difficulties and hair loss.
One of the researchers, Dr Joyce Mak, said the recovered patients were struggling with symptoms that were seriously affecting their quality of life.
"Some said they could no longer do what they did regularly before they got Covid, like hiking. They have become home-bound," she said.
Another researcher, Professor Ng Siew-chien, urged authorities to continue assessing the health condition of coronavirus patients discharged from hospital.
"The first is psychological support. It's very important. These patients, once they recovered, should not just be left. They still need certain assessments about their health," she said.
Ng said it is believed that the virus disrupts the balance of good and bad bacteria in people's guts, leading to the persistent symptoms.
"Our gut microbiota is central in regulating our immune system, our brain functions and different organs as well. So we believe that there seems to be a very strong association between the symptoms and the guts," she said.
"The easiest and non-invasive way, if they have microbiota imbalance, would be to restore this balance through certain supplementation or diet or other nutritional things. That may have a chance to reduce their symptoms."