Across Southeast Asia, Long COVID Haunts Pandemic Survivors

A digital hand-drawn illustration showing a man sitting on a hospital cot in a quarantine centre. He wears a hospital gown and holds a mobile phone in his hands. A large beam of light shines from the phone, illuminating his torso and spreading out behind him to show a stylised screenshot of a Facebook support group for COVID long-haulers. In the beam of light, two other people emerge; a woman in a long-sleeved dark red shirt with a nasal oxygen tube connected to an unseen oxygen tank, and a man in glasses, a grey hoodie and a light blue shirt. The man reaches out to grasp the woman’s hand. The rest of the quarantine centre not illuminated by the light beam is depicted in shades of grey.

In March 2020, life insurance salesperson Juno Simorangkir was trying not to think about the possibility of dying. 

He tested positive for COVID-19 on 13 March, after several days of fever, body aches and loss of smell and taste. He soon had to stop working, and like much of the world, he was stricken by panic.

But unlike most people who have contracted and survived COVID-19, Simorangkir has not fully recovered. Four visits to two separate specialists saw him hospitalised for nine days before winding up in a state-run quarantine centre in Jakarta, where he spent a month developing new symptoms.

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