Hundreds of thousands of people across the UK have been suffering from long Covid, figures suggest.
Nearly one million people were found in May to be experiencing long Covid – defined as symptoms which last for more than four weeks after infection, according to the Office for National Statistics.
An estimated 385,000 were struggling with persistent symptoms that had gone on since last summer.
Fatigue was the most common symptom, affecting an estimated 535,000 people, followed by shortness of breath striking 397,000 and muscle ache hitting 309,000
Around two-thirds of those with long Covid said it restricted their ability to carry out day-to-day activities. Symptoms include organ failure, tiredness, shortness of breath, hair loss and brain fog.
Fatigue was the most common symptom, affecting an estimated 535,000 people, followed by shortness of breath striking 397,000 and muscle ache hitting 309,000.
Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on coronavirus, said: ‘We’ve heard how the patchwork of support services for long Covid patients is already overstretched.’
Previous research has estimated that as many as two million people in England could be suffering ongoing symptoms after a Covid-19 infection.
It comes after a study found that only a small proportion of cases of long Covid are being recorded by GPs.
Experts from Oxford University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said their study raised questions about how long Covid is diagnosed, recorded and managed in the NHS.
They found that only 23,273 cases were formally recorded between February 2020 and April 2021 at GP practices in England.
More than a quarter of practices had never logged a case, according to the article in the British Journal of General Practice.
Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on coronavirus, said: ‘We’ve heard how the patchwork of support services for long Covid patients is already overstretched’
Ms Moran said: ‘Covid is not like the flu, it can cause long-term serious illness in otherwise young and healthy people, including children.
‘Even those who are not hospitalised have a risk of developing this debilitating condition, leaving them needing ongoing support for many months to recover.’
She added: ‘The new Health Secretary must consider the impact of long Covid ahead of lifting restrictions on July 19 to prevent another wave of cases that could have a devastating impact on our health service and economy.
‘Gavin Williamson must also consider the risk posed by long Covid to pupils as part of plans to relax Covid measures in schools.
‘The Government’s current approach risks condemning thousands more people to live with the cruel impact of long Covid while struggling to access the support they need.’