Coronavirus News Asia

How Covid-19 may affect the brain


A pattern is emerging among Covid-19 patients arriving at hospitals in New York: Beyond fever, cough and shortness of breath, some are deeply disoriented to the point of not knowing where they are or what year it is.

At times this is linked to low oxygen levels in their blood, but in certain patients the confusion appears disproportionate to how their lungs are faring.

Jennifer Frontera, a neurologist at NYU Langone Brooklyn hospital seeing these patients, told AFP the findings were raising concerns about the impact of the coronavirus on the brain and nervous system.

By now, most people are familiar with the respiratory hallmarks of the Covid-19 disease that has infected more than 2.2 million people around the world.

But more unusual signs are surfacing in new reports from the frontlines. 

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last week found 36.4% of 214 Chinese patients had neurological symptoms ranging from loss of smell and nerve pain, to seizures and strokes.

A paper in the New England Journal of Medicine this week examining 58 patients in Strasbourg, France, found that more than half were confused or agitated, with brain imaging suggesting inflammation.

“You’ve been hearing that this is a breathing problem, but it also affects what we most care about, the brain,” S Andrew Josephson, chair of the neurology department at the University of California, San Francisco, told AFP.



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