Over the past few months, a new phenomenon is affecting those who are recovering from Covid – a condition known as ‘Long Covid’.

It is a condition which is thought to have affected more than 60,000 people in the UK.

So far, information is slowly being put together, but medical professionals and scientists are still studying the affects Covid can have on the body.

Below is an explainer to help you understand what ‘Long Covid’ is and what is being done to help anyone affected.

So, what is Long Covid?

A report on the condition was released by the World Health Organisation in September this year.

The WHO report said: “Most people with COVID-19 experience mild symptoms or moderate illness.

“Approximately 10-15% of cases progress to severe disease, and about 5% become critically ill.

“Typically, people recover from COVID-19 after 2 to 6 weeks.

“For some people, some symptoms may linger or recur for weeks or months following initial recovery. This can also happen in people with mild disease.

“People are not infectious to others during this time.

“Some patients develop medical complications that may have lasting health effects.

“Much is still unknown about how COVID-19 affects people over time.

“More time and research is needed to understand: the long-term effects of COVID-19; why symptoms persist or recur; how these health problems affect patients and; the clinical course and likelihood of full recovery.

Persistent symptoms may include:

• Fatigue

• Cough, congestion or shortness of breath

• Loss of taste or smell

• Headache, body aches

• Diarrhea, nausea

• Chest or abdominal pain

• Confusion

Long Covid also carries the risk of affecting body systems and organs such as the lungs, brain or heart.

Is there any support available?

NHS England is set to launch a network of more than 40 ‘Long Covid’ specialist clinics within the next few weeks.

The clinics will bring together doctors, nurses, therapist and other NHS staff to physical and psychological assessments of those experiencing enduring symptoms.

NHS England has provided £10 million to fund the pioneering clinics, which will see patients who have been hospitalised, officially diagnosed after a test or reasonably believe they had Covid.

Ten sites have been earmarked for the Midlands, seven in the North East, six in the East of England, South West and South East respectively, five in London and three in the North West.

Patients will be able to access services through a GP referral or referral from other healthcare professional. 

NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “Long Covid is already having a very serious impact on many people’s lives and could well go on to affect hundreds of thousands.

“That is why, while treating rising numbers of patients who are sick with the virus and many more who do not have it, the NHS is taking action to address those suffering ongoing health issues.

“These pioneering ‘Long Covid’ clinics will help address the very real problems being faced by patients today while the taskforce will help the NHS develop a greater understanding of the lasting effects of coronavirus.”

Is there a community of people I can speak to about my Long Covid?

A support group has launched online called Long Covid Support.

It aims to bring together those who are experiencing persistent symptoms and hopes to raise awareness.

A spokesman said: “While attention has focused on the critical cases, and most people with the virus have a mild illness for a week or two, there is a sizable third group comprising people of all ages, many of whom were previously healthy and active.

“Many have been too ill to work for months, or have experienced significant relapses in their symptoms when they have tried to do too much before recovering sufficiently.

“Large numbers have turned to support groups on social media and are relieved to find they are not alone in experiencing symptoms of a diversity and duration that don’t align with official guidance.”