(Composite: Kim Mogg)(Composite: Kim Mogg)
(Composite: Kim Mogg) | Kim Mogg

Long Covid: 4 main signs amid warning thousands have had symptoms for two years

More than two million people in the UK were estimated to have long Covid last month

Almost a third of people with long Covid in the UK are likely to have been suffering from symptoms for two years or more, figures suggest.

New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that some 640,000 with long Covid are estimated to have tested positive for the virus at least 24 months ago. This is 30% of everyone likely to have the symptoms at the start of December and is up from 594,000 - or 24% of the total - in November.

Overall, some 2.1 million people living in private households in the UK were estimated to have long Covid last month, which is the equivalent of around one in 30 of the population.

While the total number is broadly unchanged on the previous survey for the period to 6 November, the number of people who are likely to have had symptoms for at least two years has been on an upwards trend for several months.

Prevalence of long Covid continues to vary among age groups and occupations. Figures suggest an estimated 5.1% (around one in 20) of 50 to 69-year-olds are currently likely to be suffering from symptoms, compared with 4.7% of 35 to 49-year-olds, 2.9% of 25 to 34-year-olds, 2.8% of people aged 70 and over and 2.1% of 17 to 24-year-olds.

Meanwhile, people working in social care reported the highest prevalence of long Covid among employment groups (6.1%), followed by health care employees (5.1%) and civil servants and local government staff (also 5.1%).

The ONS said long Covid is likely to be adversely affecting the day-to-day activities of 1.6 million people in the UK - 76% of those with self-reported long Covid – with 389,000 saying their ability to undertake day-to-day activities has been “limited a lot”.

There is no standard measure for long Covid, with the ONS using a definition based on symptoms that have persisted for more than four weeks after a first suspected coronavirus infection, where the symptoms could not be explained by something else.

The NHS says there are two types of long Covid. The first is ongoing symptomatic Covid which is when symptoms continue for four to 12 weeks after infection, while those who suffer from symptoms for 12 weeks or more are said to have post-Covid syndrome.

Long Covid can cause a variety of different symptoms which can change over time, with common problems including breathing issues, fatigue and difficulty concentrating.

Listed are the four main warning signs to look for, plus six other common symptoms that have been self-reported by people suffering from long Covid, according to the ONS.

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