New data suggests long COVID affects around 10% of 18 to 49 year olds who become unwell with COVID-19.
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, 22, 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 to 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.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
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.
Tom, 32, who features in the film says:
Jade, 32, adds:
Jade also says:
Jade, 22, who also features in the film said:
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS Medical Director, said:
Health Minister Lord Bethell said:
Dr Claire Steves, clinical academic at KCL and lead scientist at COVID Symptom Study App said:
New figures have been released as part of the Hands, Face, Space campaign which reveal uncertainty around how long it takes to recover from COVID-19. Over a third of people (34%) believe COVID-19 symptoms disappear after four weeks, whilst 1 in 5 (20%) of the 18 to 34 age group state they thought this would take 2 weeks. Over a third (31%) of the same respondents admitted they are unsure how long it would take to recover from COVID-19 symptoms.
Nearly a third (29%) of people aged between 18 to 34 said they weren’t aware it is possible to have COVID-19 without displaying symptoms, 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.
If you are suffering from any long-term symptoms or health problems after recovering from COVID-19, speak to your GP, call 111 or check the Your Covid Recovery website – an online COVID recovery resource for patients.
The compelling evidence combined with expert recommendations around ‘Hands. Face. Space’ includes:
Washing your hands
While coronavirus is not likely to survive for long periods of time on outdoor surfaces in sunlight, it can live for more than 24 hours in indoor environments. Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or using hand sanitizer regularly throughout the day will reduce the risk of catching or passing on the virus.
Covering your face
Coronavirus is carried by tiny respiratory droplets. Larger droplets can land on other people or on surfaces they touch while smaller droplets, called aerosols, can stay in the air indoors for at least five minutes, and often much longer if there is no ventilation . Face coverings reduce the dispersion of these droplets, meaning if you’re carrying the virus, you’re less likely to spread it when you exhale.
Transmission of the virus is most likely to happen within two metres, with risk increasing exponentially at shorter distances. While keeping this exact distance isn’t always possible, remaining mindful of surroundings and continuing to make space has a powerful impact when it comes to containing the spread. ‘Hands. Face. Space’ are simple but vital behaviours that have the power to protect the public from both the short and potential long-term impact of coronavirus.