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BACKGROUND: Post COVID-19 condition (PCC), as defined by WHO, refers to a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems in people who have had COVID-19, and it represents a rapidly emerging public health priority. We aimed to establish how this developing condition has affected patients in South Africa and which population groups are at risk. METHODS: In this prospective cohort study, we used the DATCOV national hospital surveillance system to identify participants aged 18 years or older who had been hospitalised with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection in South Africa. Participants underwent telephone follow-up assessment at 1 month and 3 months after hospital discharge. Participants were assessed using a standardised questionnaire for the evaluation of symptoms, functional status, health-related quality of life, and occupational status. We used negative binomial regression models to determine factors associated with PCC. FINDINGS: Of 241 159 COVID-19 admissions reported to DATCOV between Dec 1, 2020, and Aug 23, 2021, 8309 were randomly selected for enrolment. Of the 3094 patients that we were able to contact, 2410 (77·9%) consented to participate in the study at 1 month after discharge. Of these, 1873 (77·7%) were followed up at 3 months after hospital discharge. Participants had a median age of 52 years (IQR 41-62) and 960 (51·3%) were women. At 3 months of follow-up, 1249 (66·7%) of 1873 participants reported new or persistent COVID-19-related symptoms, compared with 1978 (82·1%) of 2410 at 1 month after hospital discharge. The most common symptoms reported at 3 months were fatigue (50·3%), shortness of breath (23·4%), confusion or lack of concentration (17·5%), headaches (13·8%), and problems seeing or blurred vision (10·1%). On multivariable analysis, the factors associated with persistent symptoms after acute COVID-19 were being female (adjusted incident rate ratio 1·20, 95% CI 1·04-1·38) and admission to an intensive care unit (1·17, 1·01-1·37). INTERPRETATION: Most participants in this cohort of individuals previously hospitalised with COVID-19 reported persistent symptoms 3 months after hospital discharge and a significant impact of PCC on their functional and occupational status. The large burden of PCC symptoms identified in this study emphasises the need for a national health strategy. This should include the development of clinical guidelines and training of health-care workers for identifying, assessing, and caring for patients affected by PCC; establishment of multidisciplinary health services; and provision of information and support to people who have PCC. FUNDING: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, and Wellcome.

Original publication




Journal article


Lancet Glob Health

Publication Date





e1247 - e1256


Adult, COVID-19, Cohort Studies, Female, Hospitalization, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Prospective Studies, Quality of Life, SARS-CoV-2, South Africa