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How Employers Can Manage Long COVID

Mohamad Danial bin Ab Khalil
by Mohamad Danial bin Ab Khalil
Sep 30, 2022 at 1:57 PM

Approximately 10% to 15% of patients infected with Covid-19 continue to experience symptoms long after they have been pronounced the all-clear.

More than two years after the global epidemic began, the post-Covid phenomenon, also referred to as Long Covid, is starting to materialise in life and work, bringing a slew of issues along.


The effects of Long Covid on people

According to Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr Murugan Raj, those with Long Covid experience shortness of breath, coughing, chest aches, and fatigue. It causes lower productivity and higher medical costs for their companies.

According to Murugan, people infected with Covid-19 may develop new, returning, or persistent symptoms for weeks or months after recovering from the initial infection. He stated that those who did not receive the Covid-19 vaccine or had a severe infection were more likely to develop Long Covid later in life.

He said that Long Covid could cause difficulties in carrying out ordinary daily duties, which has now become a source of concern for organisations, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).


How Long Covid affects businesses

According to a study in The Edge last year, more than a third of Long Covid patients who participated in a survey said they had to take time off or work fewer hours. For businesses, it creates additional issues ranging from increased costs to missed deadlines.

The chairman of the Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Samenta), William Ng, said that workers were already experiencing difficulty transitioning from working at home to working at the office.

Long Covid is simply complicating the transition, and according to Ng, there is a general sluggishness at work after two years of lockdown. He was concerned that this would result in more sick days and poorer production.

He said that this is a reality they must deal with today, emphasising the gravity of the new crisis businesses face.


How employers can manage Long Covid 

Although no comprehensive statistics on the prevalence of Long Covid are available, Ng believes that businesses should take action immediately to address the issue.

He said that SMEs should start to invest in their staff's physical, emotional and psychological well-being.  As employers, he believes that speaking with employees can assist firms in determining the best method to cope with the Long Covid productivity issue.

He added that employers must understand their employees' worries and the issues they go through to offer appropriate assistance to those battling Long Covid.  Employers, according to Ng, should explore introducing flexible work arrangements for tasks that do not necessitate physical presence at the workplace.

However, he said such arrangements take two to make it work, as employees must agree to deliver on agreed-upon performance standards if their employers allow flexible work arrangements.

According to Murugan, some patients may require monthly visits to manage the symptoms of Long Covid to remain productive. He said it is crucial to pay special attention to one's health. 

He stated that in some situations, the patient might need to see a therapist. He added that the best course of action would be to seek medical attention if symptoms linger four weeks after infection.


Source: Free Malaysia Today