A leading long Covid specialist has urged people to get active in order to reduce their chances of suffering from the long-term consequences of coronavirus.
It is estimated that one in 20 people who test positive for Covid-19 will still display symptoms some eight weeks after the illness began.
In March 2020, researchers at Kings College London developed the Zoe Covid symptom tracker. This allows individuals to enter what symptoms they are suffering from after they received a positive coronavirus test.
A report published in autumn 2020 suggested that excess weight gain made an individual more vulnerable to displaying symptoms beyond the ten-day isolation period.
It is also believed that women and the elderly are more likely to suffer from long Covid.
Dr Frances Williams, a professor of genomic epidemiology at Kings College London who oversaw the development of the Covid symptom tracker, likened the risk to that of other conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes.
AUDIO: Professor Frances Williams from Kings College London developed the Covid symptom tracker
“The evidence is beginning to come out that people with a less healthy diet and those who do less exercise are more likely to have prolonged symptoms.
“But that’s not unique to Covid. That’s going to be true for a number of chronic conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes or back pain.
“The more you can encourage someone to adopt a healthier lifestyle, the more likely they are to improve.
“This illness highlights something we’ve known about for a long time – and that is post-viral fatigue. It is a well recognised condition, but it is often overlooked by the medical profession.
What is 'Long COVID'?
— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) October 21, 2020
“But the longer we follow this out, the smaller and smaller proportion of people who have symptoms. What you can say to people is that they will get better. What no one could tell an individual person is when they are going to get better.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that he is “acutely aware” of the seriousness of long Covid and, in December 2020, NHS England announce 69 new specialist clinics for long Covid patients. This will bring together the medical expertise of physiotherapists and specialist medics.
“I had to be off work for six weeks”
Guidance released by the NHS encourages those suffering from the long-term symptoms of Covid-19 to contact their GP who can refer patients for chest X-Rays and blood tests.
Alex Reece-Ford, a yoga teacher from Essex, required medical assistance when she tested positive for Covid-19 on New Year’s Day. She is still suffering from long Covid.
“I’m still struggling with the fatigue. That’s still bad. Some days I will feel okay, but then the next day, I will just be completely drained again.
AUDIO: Yoga teacher Alex Reece-Ford tested positive for Covid-19 on New Year’s Day
“I still feel like I can’t take a big enough breath. That’s still ongoing. With the job I do, that’s been quite difficult. I’m having to teach, talk and breathe at the same time.
“It has impacted my work. I had to be off work for six weeks because I just couldn’t manage the physical side of it all.
“I’m still very tired. I need to go to bed a lot earlier than I ever did before. I’m struggling to wake up in the morning.
“It’s very tough. I try to live in the moment as much as possible. I try to deal with what I can deal with on that specific day. It’s all about being aware of your own body and not leaving it too long until you ask for help.”
In the summer of 2020, the NHS launched the Your Covid Recovery Scheme. The 12-week service allows patients who are suffering from the long-term consequences of coronavirus access to a clinical team and exercises to help them regain muscle strength as well as a community of those suffering from similar symptoms.
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Problems with memory