Long Covid: 60,000 ill with coronavirus for three months or more, professor says

Vincent Wood
Tuesday 08 September 2020 07:57
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Bolton has highest coronavirus rates in country but health measures have now been lifted anyway
Bolton has highest coronavirus rates in country but health measures have now been lifted anyway

Some 60,000 people have been ill for more than three months after being infected with coronavirus, a mass survey has suggested, amid concern over care provisions for those with so-called “long Covid”.

Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College London who is leading the Covid Symptom Study app, said that a further 300,000 had reported symptoms lasting for more than a month - while some have described being confined to a wheelchair having previously been fit and healthy.

Among the symptoms reported are breathlessness and fatigue. Some sufferers have described doing shopping or climbing stairs as activities that can leave them bed-ridden for days.

On Monday, Matt Hancock said that some people were still experiencing symptoms six months after contracting the virus.

Speaking on LBC radio, the health secretary said: "Long Covid, where people six months on are still ill, is prevalent among younger people."

However, Prof Spector told BBC Radio 4's File On 4 said he was "frustrated" that data from the app is not being more widely used. "There's a big danger these [people] might end up being forgotten," he said.

The BBC programme asked commissioning groups and health boards across the UK whether they had set up post-Covid clinics for patients who were not admitted to hospital with the virus.

Of the 86 who responded, 10 said they were already running such facilities. A further 16 said they were planning or redesigning services.

Many patients will be seen by their GP, or existing services.

NHS England's new Your Covid Recovery website offers personalised support for all patients recovering from Covid-19

Lynne Turner Stokes, professor of rehabilitation medicine at King's College London, told File On 4 the website had some "good resources" but that "we have to do much more".

A spokesperson for the NHS in England said: "At the same time as treating more than 108,000 coronavirus patients and keeping other vital services running throughout the pandemic, the NHS has played a leading role in patient recovery and scientific discovery which is saving lives here and around the world.

"While experts globally continue work to understand more about the short and long-term impact of this new disease, NHS teams are rapidly expanding aftercare and support to all patients who need it, including new and strengthened rehab centres and community services providing tailored treatment in every part of the country, such as the first of its kind Seacole centre, and a new online health advice and support platform, which patients said they wanted to help them recover at home."

It comes as new guidance published on the government website sets out some of the long-term health effects for some people who have had Covid-19.

The guidance states that around 10 per cent of mild coronavirus cases who were not admitted to hospital have reported symptoms lasting more than 4 weeks.

And a number of people admitted to hospital reported continuing symptoms for eight or more weeks following discharge.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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