As COVID cases continue to crop up across the province and across Canada, it’s become more important than ever to be able to understand the data that is provided by the BC CDC.
More specifically, what constitutes a COVID-19 recovery in the eyes of the BC CDC.
To date, just under 770,000 people have recovered across Canada, approximately 67,000 of which reside in B.C.
According to Dr. Trina Larsen Soles of the Physicians of Golden, a recovery is recorded two weeks after symptoms start to display.
However, she says it’s important to note that this only accounts for the end of the infectious period and that symptoms can continue to linger beyond the infectious period.
“It doesn’t mean that you’re better, it just means you’re not infectious anymore,” said Larsen Soles.
“It’s a very minute chance that you would be able to pass it on after those 14 days.”
Larsen Soles explained that multiple tests aren’t a feasible way to count recoveries, as those infected with COVID-19 can continue to shed dead viral matter after the 14 day window, despite being non-infectious.
The PCR test, which is the gold standard for COVID testing according to Larsen Soles, will pick up on the non-contagious viral matter and present a positive test, despite the patient no longer being infectious.
“It was decided that what really mattered was weather you could infect others after 14 days,” said Larsen Soles.
For those who experience a severe case of COVID019, the 14 day standard may not be enough, with those who are hospitalized being instructed to isolate for another 14 days after being discharged from hospital before being counted as a recovery.
She added that those who continue to display acute symptoms should remain at home.
“If after 14 days you feel terrible, you shouldn’t be going out and you probably wouldn’t want to if you’re still sick, but people can have symptoms that linger for a long time.
“If you have a little cough or some fatigue that’s fine, but there are people who stay very ill for weeks after.”
Larsen Soles that at least ten per cent, to potentially as high as 30 per cent of COVID patients deal with persistent symptoms in the weeks following their illness.
The most common lingering symptoms are fatigue and shortness of breath. Some don’t regain their sense of taste or smell.
“People will say look at all these recoveries! What’s the big deal? But the big deal is that it’s more fatal than the flu and about 75 per cent of hospitalizations have persistent symptoms,” said Larsen Soles.
“We don’t know if these symptoms are forever, there’s a small subset of people in hospital who have lung, brain or heart damage, people are having strokes.
“They’re recovered, they’re not shedding COVID, they’re not contagious, but they’re most certainly not well.”
Within B.C., Larsen Soles says that physicians are creating networks and clinics to help treat post-COVID symptoms, to better understand what’s happening with the virus.
“The take home message here is that we don’t know much about the long-term behaviour of the virus and there’s ongoing research that will hopefully make things more clear the longer we look into this.”
Larsen Soles says that those who are experiencing lingering symptoms post-COVID should reach out to their physicians to develop a course of action to treat the symptoms moving forward.