Huang and colleagues recently reported that as many as 76% of patients discharged after hospitalisation for COVID-19 had at least one symptom persisting 6 months after disease onset, including fatigue or muscle weakness (63%), sleep difficulties (26%), and anxiety or depression (23%). Additionally, more than 50% of the patients had abnormal chest CT images indicating impaired pulmonary function.
Although SARS-CoV-2 mainly affects the lungs, many other organs are also affected. Enteric symptoms are common in COVID-19, and gastrointestinal symptoms can be the only symptom, or can be present before respiratory symptoms. The cellular receptor for SARS-CoV-2, ACE2, is highly expressed in the gut, and SARS-CoV-2 has been observed in the colonic tissue and faeces of patients with COVID-19. Therefore, we examined the long-term gastrointestinal sequalae of SARS-CoV-2 infection in patients who were admitted for COVID-19 to 12 hospitals in the Hubei and Guangdong provinces, China, between Jan 16 and March 7, 2020, and subsequently discharged (appendix pp 1–3).