Tens of thousands of people will need to be recalled to hospital after a serious OVID-19 infection to check if they have been left with permanent lung damage, doctors have told the BBC.
Experts are concerned a significant proportion could be left with lung scarring, known as pulmonary fibrosis. The condition is irreversible and symptoms can include severe shortness of breath, coughing and fatigue.
Research into the prevalence of lung damage caused by COVID-19 is still at a very early stage. It's thought those with a mild form of the disease are unlikely to suffer permanent damage. But those in hospital, and particularly those in intensive care or with a severe infection, are more vulnerable to complications.
In a study from China, published in March, 66 of 70 patients still had some level of lung damage after being discharged from hospital.
Radiologists in the UK say, based on the early results of follow-up scans, they are concerned about the long term-effects of a serious infection.
Prof Gisli Jenkins, of the National Institute for Health Research, is running assessment clinics for those discharged from hospital with COVID-19. He said: "My real concern is that never before in our lifetime have so many people been subject to the same lung injury at the same time."
NHS England has said it is planning to open a number of specialist COVID-19 rehabilitation centres to help patients recover from long-term effects, including possible lung damage.
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Source: BBC News, 24 June 2020