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Patterns of oxygen saturation in prolonged recovery from COVID-19 pneumonia

F Asmodien, G Calligaro, A Husaimen, N Kwinana, N Teixeira, T Ward, S J Reid


During the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa, a recurrent pattern of prolonged recovery after acute COVID-19 pneumonia, characterised by low oxygen saturation levels for >2 weeks, was observed in an intermediate-care facility in Cape Town. A case study together with a series of 12 patients is presented to illustrate this phenomenon, and two types of ‘sats gap’ are described, which were used by physiotherapists and doctors to monitor daily progress. We attempt to explain this prolonged recovery in terms of the possible pathophysiology, and suggest a number of learning points to guide further research.

Authors' affiliations

F Asmodien, Cape Town, South Africa

G Calligaro, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

A Husaimen, Cape Town, South Africa

N Kwinana, Cape Town, South Africa

N Teixeira, Cape Town, South Africa

T Ward, Cape Town, South Africa

S J Reid, Primary Health Care Directorate, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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COVID-19 pneumonia; Prolonged recovery; Physiotherapy

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2021;111(9):849-851. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2021.v111i9.15722

Article History

Date submitted: 2021-07-27
Date published: 2021-07-27

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