Introduction: The emergence and persistence of symptoms after acute COVID-19 is expected to become a major burden on healthcare systems. We assessed the features of the post-COVID-19 Syndrome (Long COVID) burden in a cohort of COVID-19 patients during the fifth major wave in Hong Kong. Methods: A cross-sectional study of 135 patients with confirmed COVID-19 from Feb to Apr 2022 who utilized traditional Chinese medicine telemedicine services was conducted. The COVID-19 Yorkshire Rehabilitation Scale was administered using an online survey 12 weeks after the COVID-19 infection. Prevalence of symptom severity and functional impairments were assessed to identify burdens and patterns. The correlation between symptom severity, functional impairments, patient characteristics, and overall health was evaluated. Results: The mean age was 46.8 years, with 46 (34.1%) males. Symptoms, functional impairments, and overall health worsened significantly when compared to the status prior to the infection. More than 50% reported the following sequelae 12 weeks after the acute infection: breathlessness, laryngeal or airway complications, fatigue, weakness, sleep, cognition, and anxiety. The presence of a single symptom or functional impairment significantly correlated with at least seven other problems positively, except for pain. Severity tended to be higher among vulnerable groups, including those who were chronic disease patients, older, less well educated, female, or had incomplete COVID-19 vaccinations. Conclusions: Long COVID is a significant healthcare burden among telemedicine users in Hong Kong, with complex needs for symptom and functional impairment management. Designing relevant health and rehabilitation services tailored to the needs of these patients is warranted.

Fai Fai Ho et al.: Prevalence, Patterns, and Clinical Severity of Long COVID among Chinese Medicine Telemedicine Service Users: Preliminary Results from a Cross-Sectional Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 20(3): 1827 (2023).

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