Skip to main content



Covid-19 symptoms usually last months, large-scale Dutch survey suggests

HONG KONG — A survey in the Netherlands has suggested that most people who showed signs of having Covid-19 still had multiple symptoms nearly three months later.

HONG KONG — A survey in the Netherlands has suggested that most people who showed signs of having Covid-19 still had multiple symptoms nearly three months later.

Only 0.7 per cent of respondents said they were completely symptom-free 79 days after first showing signs of infection, according to research published on Thursday (Sept 10) in the European Respiratory Society’s Open Research journal.

The survey is the first to show only a partial recovery among a large sample of people, according to the researchers.

It involved more than 2,100 mostly non-hospitalised people confirmed or suspected to have had Covid-19 in the Netherlands and Flanders, the northern Dutch-speaking part of Belgium.

The coronavirus that causes the disease Covid-19 has infected more than 27 million people globally, with 18 million of them having recovered, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

Respondents reported a median of seven symptoms when they were surveyed an average of 79 days after they first experienced signs of Covid-19, with fatigue and breathing difficulties the most common.

Some 44 per cent still had chest tightness, 38 per cent had headache, 36 per cent had muscle pain and 33 per cent had pain between the shoulder blades.

Unlike the hospitalised group surveyed, “patients with ‘mild’ Covid-19 got little guidance and were often abandoned to their fate”, the researchers said.

“When we were talking with patients, we found out that they also complained about the things that may not be directly related to the respiratory system,” said Dr Martijn Spruit, an author of the paper and a professor in rehabilitation of chronic organ failure at Maastricht University.

It was still to be determined how long symptoms could remain, said Dr Yvonne Goertz, one of the lead authors of the paper and a researcher with chronic lung disease treatment centre Ciro.

The group conducted their survey in June. The respondents’ median age was 47, while 85 per cent were female and most reported being in good health before their symptoms, the paper said.

Among the respondents, 5 per cent had been admitted to hospital with confirmed Covid-19. Of the rest, 17 per cent had tested positive for the virus, 44 per cent were diagnosed based on symptoms, and 39 per cent had no symptom-based diagnosis by a doctor.

The results are in line with those of a previous study on 143 Covid-19 patients discharged from a hospital in Italy. Only 13 per cent of those patients were completely free of related symptoms 60 days on average after the onset of the first symptom, according to a paper published in July.

Half of them still had three or more symptoms and 44 per cent reported a worse quality of life. SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus study Covid-19 Symptoms

Read more of the latest in




Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.