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One million people in the UK suffering with long Covid

According to the Office for National Statistics(ONS), 1.1 million people in private households in the UK reported having long Covid symptoms during the four weeks to September 5, the largest monthly increase, up from 970,000 in the previous ONS survey. 

Around 706,000 people said the problems were affecting their day to day life, with 211,000 reporting their ability to undertake their day-to-day activities had been ‘limited a lot’ by their symptoms.

Fatigue was the most common symptom reported (56%) followed by shortness of breath (40%), loss of smell (32%), and difficulty concentrating (31%).

ONS said Long covid was most common in people aged 35 to 69 (2.3% of the population). However, the largest monthly increase in prevalence was among young adults aged 17 to 24, from 1.2% of the population by August 1 2021 to 1.9% by September 5 2021. 

Long Covid rates remained highest among people working in health care (3.1% of the population) or social care (2.7%) over the four weeks to September 5 2021. The largest increase in prevalence was among people working in hospitality, from 1.6% by August 1 2021 to 2.6% by September 5 2021.

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LongCovidSOS, a group of long-term sufferers who are putting pressure on the government to recognise the needs of those with Long Covid and to raise awareness among the general public and employers, said the figures are a major concern.

A spokesman for the group said: ‘What we’re seeing with these figures is a reflection of the start of the ‘third wave’ which began in July, a huge increase in people who were infected less than eight weeks prior, in this dataset to 5/9.

 ‘This wave has particularly impacted younger people who were the last to be vaccinated (17-24 year olds showed by far the biggest increase), and of course children where we now have another 15,000 cases of long Covid.  

‘This is a major concern, we have written to the government twice to highlight the risk of easing restrictions before everyone was vaccinated and we are now seeing the results of these policies in the soaring numbers of young people with long Covid.

‘The delays in vaccinating teenagers means that we will certainly see even greater rises in those aged 12-16 affected by this debilitating condition over coming months.

‘We are also seeing more children under 12 developing long Covid. The only way to prevent long Covid is to prevent infections, and unfortunately, very few measures exist to do this in the UK.’

This comes after the World Health Organization (WHO)  published a definition of long Covid for the first time.

The WHO said: ‘Post Covid-19 condition occurs in individuals with a history of probable or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, usually three months from the onset of Covid-19 with symptoms that last for at least two months and cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis.

‘Common symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, cognitive dysfunction but also others, which generally have an impact on everyday functioning.

‘Symptoms may be new-onset, following initial recovery from an acute COVID-19 episode, or persist from the initial illness. Symptoms may also fluctuate or relapse over time.’

Photo Credit – Claudia Wolff

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