Recently released pandemic related data has found that six percent of adults in Ireland are living with self-reported symptoms of long Covid.
The data is based on a survey carried out by leading polling company, Ireland Thinks, and was commissioned by local Independent Deputy, Denis Naughten.
Deputy Naughten recently called for long Covid to be recognised as an occupational hazard for frontline workers, and urged the Government to treat patients presenting with ongoing symptoms with the same urgency as the initial wave of infections.
“This is the first exploratory survey of its kind to be conducted in Ireland, and offers a stark perspective on the community prevelance of long Covid, which does not currently have a defined treatment pathway. Symptoms of long Covid include fatigue and brain fog, which are experienced at least 12 weeks after the initial infection for significant periods of time, in some cases over two years.
“The HSE has recognised the need to treat patients with long Covid with plans in place since September 2021 to establish 14 specialist long Covid centres across the country but to date just one third of the required staff have been recruited.
“Despite the failure to deliver these clinics for people suffering with long Covid symptoms the only fully operational clinic treating patients with neurological symptoms at the Mater Hospital has closed its doors due to a lack of funding,” Deputy Naughten said.
The polling data shows that:
• 6% of adults in Ireland have self-reported symptoms of long Covid in excess of 12 weeks, with a further 3% of adults self-reporting the onset of symptoms for less than 12 weeks.
• 67% of those reporting symptoms experienced a continuation of symptoms more than twelve weeks after an initial infection with COVID-19. This figure is higher among women (69% ) than men (60% )
• 84% of those with symptoms of long Covid report that their ability to conduct daily activities has been reduced as a result.
• The most commonly reported symptom is fatigue (84% ) followed by shortness of breath (59% ), sleep problems (44% ), memory problems (43% ) and muscle ache (39% ).
• Fatigue is the most commonly reported symptom among all age groups, bar 18-24, where shortness of breath is most frequently reported.
“The findings released today from the first comprehensive survey on the prevalence of long Covid in Ireland, show the need to urgently address the care requirements of those who are suffering with this illness. While the mechanism behind the disease has yet to be fully defined, given the proportion of the population in Ireland living with long Covid, it is imperative that evidence-based treatment pathways be explored as a priority.
“We need to take a full-scale approach to treating long Covid - multidisciplinary clinics with involvement from respiratory specialists, infectious disease physicians, neurologists, cardiologists and psychologists who can provide patients with a comprehensive assessment and a holistic treatment plan
“There are an estimated 21,459 adults who are unable to work because of long Covid. They need appropriate medical care to allow them to return to the workforce; and adequate support to facilitate their recovery. We know that recovery from long Covid is possible, but the Government must now step up and deploy every available resource promptly and without delay,” Deputy Naughten said.