An estimated 114,500 people in Ireland are living with long Covid or will experience the condition in the future, according to new research.
Long Covid, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), is a post-Covid-19 condition that occurs in individuals with a history of probable or confirmed SARS CoV-2 infection.
As the Irish Examiner reports, it usually occurs about three months after the onset of Covid-19, or with symptoms that may last for a period of at least two months and which cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis.
The research, carried out by the Oireachtas Library and Research Service, suggested that around 10 per cent of all those who contract the virus may suffer the effects of Long Covid.
This incidence rate, applied to the most recent available Covid case data, would mean that roughly 114,000 people in Ireland have the condition or will develop it.
The symptoms of long Covid can vary widely, but among cases recorded in Ireland and the UK, the most common symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pains or chest tightness, muscle soreness, difficulty sleeping, coughs, headaches, sore throats, and problems with memory and concentration.
These symptoms can develop after a person has recovered from acute Covid-19 or they can persist for a period after they have recovered from the initial illness.
These effects appear to occur irrespective of the initial severity of the covid infection.
However, they do occur more frequently in women, in middle age and in those with more symptoms initially.
Research into condition is evolving worldwide, with several studies investigating the aetiology, outcomes and management of persisting symptoms currently ongoing.
Independent TD Dennis Naughten, who commissioned the Irish research, said the number of people living with the condition was “rapidly becoming a hidden iceberg of long-term chronic illness” for the HSE.
“While the HSE stated last September that it planned to establish specialist long Covid clinics, only a Model of Care for Long Covid has been agreed, with the HSE now starting to implement it,” he told the Dáil.
“The HSE has stated that a variety of disciplines will need to be recruited to support these clinics and, as a result, it has no idea when long Covid clinics will become fully operational.”
He called on Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to establish multi-disciplinary teams as a matter of urgency to support the rehabilitation of patients with the condition.