AROUND 3,000 people in York could be living with Long Covid – and many may not even realise they have it, a new report has revealed.
And one consultant said York clinics could be seeing as many as 260 Long Covid patients a week by the end of this month.
The medical community has expressed rising fears that the virus could be leaving a lasting impact on sufferers’ physical and mental health.
There were around 970,000 people living with the condition in the UK by the end of August 2021, Office for National Statistics Figures show – many of whom could be from York.
The warning was raised at the latest City of York Council (CYC) health and wellbeing board meeting.
Peter Roderick, consultant in Public Health for City of York Council/NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said it is still not known why some people develop Long Covid and the risk factors involved.
Meanwhile there are currently no effective diagnostic tests or treatments.
Dr Emma Broughton, who works as a GP in York, claimed “one of the biggest” problems with Long Covid is that not enough people know the warning signs.
Some of the symptoms include weakness/tiredness, shortness of breath, muscle ache, difficulty concentrating, loss of smell, trouble sleeping, headaches, anxiety, memory loss or confusion, loss of taste and low mood.
Assessment hubs – created by Nimbuscare and York CVS – have been supporting patients with Covid-19 related health issues.
Dr Broughton told the meeting: “One of the things we’re working with is trying to raise awareness. Because I think one of the biggest challenges is patients knowing that these are Long Covid symptoms because those who have been in hospital and have been very poorly are automatically followed up because they have health sequelae [postviral syndrome].
“But for those who have had particularly the community-acquired forms of Covid might not realise that some of those symptoms might actually be Long Covid.”
She added: “This is a condition as doctors clearly we’ve never heard of before. We’re still learning. We don’t quite know and what this represents and what we can do to help.”
Long Covid – which develops after a coronavirus infection – does not need a past positive test or strong, recognisable symptoms for a diagnosis.
It could represent itself as vertigo or dizziness, a long-lasting cough, palpitations, chest pain, loss of appetite, sore throat, abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, diarrhoea and fever.
“I think it took a long time for people to recognise that it actually existed,” Cllr Carol Runciman, executive member for health and adult social care, said.
The main message from the health board is that vaccination not only reduces the risk of hospitalisation, but also Long Covid.
The report shared in the meeting noted a 50 per cent reduction in the risk of Long Covid in those who were vaccinated.
Dr Nigel Wells, clinical chair of the Vale of York CCG, said: “Prevention is the better than cure. So it’s just to push the vaccination plug again and again and again.
“The problem with Long Covid is it’s going to have ripples out into families, friends, workplaces and also into the workforce of the NHS because understandably these services we’re putting in place, quite rightly, will have impact on waiting lists elsewhere. It’s just to explain we need to continue the vaccinations with the boosters to stop people from getting Covid.”
Meanwhile Sian Balsom, manager at Healthwatch York, sent a stark message out to the public to say “we are not over this…by a long shot”.
She said: “Vaccination is really important but I also think any measures we can collectively take to prevent the spread of Covid are really important.
“I agree with you Carol that there does seem to be a feeling out there that this is all over and actually the conversations we’re having in health and care tell us it absolutely isn’t over.
“Masks are vitally important and the more I’m going out and about at the moment the fewer people are wearing them in confined spaces, the less it feels like a normal thing to do.
“We need to keep the pressure up, wear your mask, care about other people, try and reduce the spread of this, because we are not 100 per cent over this by a long shot.”
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