The Health Secretary is urging the public – and especially young people – to follow the rules and protect themselves and others from COVID-19, as new data and a new film released today reveal the potentially devastating long- term impact of the virus.
The symptoms of ‘long COVID’ – including fatigue, protracted loss of taste or smell, respiratory and cardiovascular symptoms and mental health problems – are described in a new film being released today as part of the wider national Hands, Face, Space campaign. The film calls on the public to continue to wash their hands, cover their face and make space to control the spread of the virus.
The emotive film features the stories of Jade, 23, Jade, 32, Tom, 32 and John, 48, who explain how their lives have been affected – weeks and months after being diagnosed with COVID-19. They discuss symptoms such as breathlessness when walking up the stairs, intermittent fevers and chest pain. The film aims to raise awareness of the long-term impact of COVID-19 as we learn more about the virus.
A new study today from King’s College London, using data from the COVID Symptom Study App and ZOE, shows one in 20 people with COVID-19 are likely to have symptoms for 8 weeks or more. The study suggests long COVID affects around 10% of 18-49 year olds who become unwell with COVID-19.
Public Health England have found that around 10% of COVID-19 cases who were not admitted to hospital have reported symptoms lasting more than four weeks and a number of hospitalised cases reported continuing symptoms for eight or more weeks after discharge.
The Government is committed to supporting people suffering long-term symptoms of COVID-19. The NHS recently announced £10 million to run designated long COVID clinics in every area across England where respiratory consultants, physiotherapists, other specialists and GPs will all help assess, diagnose and treat thousands of people who have reported symptoms ranging from breathlessness, chronic fatigue, “brain fog” to anxiety and stress.
Most people recover from COVID-19 without needing special treatment and for the majority symptoms will clear after approximately 2 weeks. But some of the persistent health problems reported for weeks and months after include continuing headaches, fatigue, respiratory symptoms such as lung inflammation, cardiovascular symptoms such as chest tightness, protracted loss or change of smell and taste and mental health problems, such as cognitive difficulties.
New figures have been released as part of the Hands, Face, Space campaign which reveal a level of uncertainty around how long it takes to recover from COVID-19. Over a third of people who haven’t had the virus (34%) believe COVID-19 symptoms disappear within four weeks, whilst 1 in 4 (24%) of the 18-34 age group state they thought this would take up to 2-weeks.
Nearly a third (29%) of people aged between 18-34 weren’t aware it is possible to have COVID-19 without displaying symptoms2, meaning many people could also be at risk of acting as a ‘carrier’ of COVID-19 and passing it on to vulnerable family members, further reinforcing the importance of adopting the three essential behaviours to protect ourselves and our loved ones.