Tokyo ward finds coronavirus aftereffects lasting longer among older people

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Yomiuri Shimbun file photos People cross the Sangenjaya intersection in one of the major shopping districts in Setagaya Ward in April 2020.

Older people tend to suffer from aftereffects of the novel coronavirus longer than younger ones, according to a survey conducted by Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward on patients’ condition 120 days after they tested positive.

According to the ward office, about 30% of infected residents aged from 10 to 39 said “they were experiencing aftereffects,” compared to more than 40% of people in their 40s to 80s.

The survey was conducted via mail and the internet among 8,959 ward residents who had tested positive as of April 15. It was implemented in July and August, with 3,710 people responding. An interim report was released in September, with 1,786 people, or 48.1%, saying they were experiencing aftereffects.

The ward office recently released a further analysis of the condition of these 1,786 people. The number feeling aftereffects after 120 days decreased to about 30% of the group aged 10 to 39, but exceeded 40% among those in their 40s to 80s. At least 54 people overall suffered from aftereffects for a year.

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Nobuto Hosaka

By gender, 41.9% of men developed aftereffects, compared to 54.3% of women. Among women, 60% had problems with their sense of smell.

Among asymptomatic people who did not develop fevers or other symptoms, about 30% had some kind of aftereffects. Others developed new symptoms a while after they tested positive.

“Even young people had aftereffects for a certain period of time and experienced difficulties in daily life,” a ward official said.

The ward office said a coronavirus-related survey on this scale, including asymptomatic people, was unusual. It will give the results to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the metropolitan government, and request countermeasures be implemented.

The ward plans to further survey people infected by the virus during the fifth wave of the outbreak this summer, in an effort to gain a better understanding of the situation and prevent infections.

“Many people [infected in the fifth wave] may be suffering from aftereffects now,” ward Mayor Nobuto Hosaka said. “Some continue to have symptoms for a year, but medical care and treatment systems are not in place, and we urge the government and the metropolitan government to take steps,” said Hosaka.