Stockport’s Director of Public Health, Jennifer Connolly, has outlined the most common symptoms of Long Covid in her weekly statement on the pandemic.
Connolly warned that the rate of infection in the borough remains among the highest in the UK. She also explained the common symptoms of Long Covid, following the recent publication of a long-term study by Imperial College London; affecting those infected for up to 12 weeks or more, Long Covid can affect people’s ability to work and live normally and is most prevalent in the 30-69 age group and those less at risk of more severe illness.
In her full statement, Jennifer Connolly said:
We are still seeing high rates of Coronavirus in Stockport, with the Delta variant now accounting for 99% of cases. Rates are currently at 219.4* cases per 100,000 and 92 new cases each day and Stockport currently has the 11th highest number of cases in the country. The latest published data can be found here.
While we must curb the transmission in order to prevent further hospitalisations, the harms and effects caused by the Delta variant are far more wide reaching. Currently, one of the issues we know least about is its ability to cause increased likelihood of more people suffering detrimental long-term ill effects on their health, known as Long Covid.
Long Covid is when people who’ve had Covid develop ongoing, persistent symptoms after 4 weeks or continue to have symptoms after 12 weeks, not explained by an alternative diagnosis.
It usually presents with clusters of symptoms, often overlapping, which can fluctuate, change over time and affect the whole body. Major symptoms can include:
– Muscle weakness and joint pain
– Shortness of breath on exertion, persistent cough and oxygen requirement
– Anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, cognitive disturbances such as brain fog, headaches and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
– Palpitations and chest pain
– Blood clots
– Chronic Kidney Disease
– Loss of taste and smell
– Hair loss
However, these symptoms are very common and may be difficult to diagnose as Long Covid.
This week, an Imperial College London report concluded that around 2 million people in England have had Long Covid. In Stockport, tens of thousands of people have had confirmed cases of Covid-19 during the pandemic, with tens of thousands more residents having had the virus without knowing. It is estimated around a fifth of these could still be suffering symptoms after five weeks and a 10th after 12 weeks.
Risk factors for long-lasting symptoms appear to be different those most likely to have Covid, with those most affected being:
– People in middle-age (30 to 69 years), rather than older people who are at higher risk from acute COVID
– Women, rather than men who are at higher risk from acute COVID
– People from more deprived areas
– People with pre-existing health conditions
– People in more COVID-exposed occupations, particularly health and social care.
To help combat Long Covid, Stockport residents have access to a range of support including Stockport Moving Together, along with the COVID recovery group at Stepping Hill Hospital and covid groups that have been established in the community.
People discharged from hospital are assessed and supported through inpatient rehabilitation services or ward-based care such as gentle, progressive exercise then GP referral, and those with milder symptoms supported through primary care.
Similarly, people who test positive in the community or who need access to support following discharge can access:
– Self-help and online support here
– Support in primary care, including physical activity referral
– Medical assessment through a Long Covid clinic.
Research is ongoing into the most appropriate treatments but it’s thought therapeutic exercise may be a good option. Life Leisure, has been aiding residents’ recovery with a special rehabilitation programme to build up their strength. It is supported by the Stockport Moving Together campaign, funded by Stockport Council and Sport England. It includes weekly exercise sessions on Zoom and a physical activity pack containing equipment such as resistance bands and pedal exerciser, as well as ongoing support from experts at Life Leisure.
You can benefit from the programme if you:
– Have had a positive coronavirus test and are currently looking at ways to gradually build up your strength and stamina
– Have no underlying health conditions which require further investigations
– Are a Stockport resident or have somebody who can pick up the pack from a Stockport location
– Are 18 years and over
– Are physically able to undertake some gentle exercise
You can be referred by your GP or hospital, or individuals can self-refer here. Enquiries for the physical activity packs can be emailed to email@example.com.
A Post Covid support group also takes place online each Wednesday at 11.30am. For further details and the link to join, call Marie O’Maley on 07800 618 570 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Long-Covid could become a long-term condition for a significant number of people, with financial consequences for them and society, and is likely to add to the number of people who are vulnerable to a cycle of employment issues and ill health. Further information on Long Covid can be found here.
It is, therefore, vital that as many people as possible take up the vaccination offer to prevent future waves of Covid and minimise the numbers who suffer with Long Covid.
The vaccination programme continues, with 80.6% of Stockport’s adult population having received their first dose and 59.9% both doses. All over 18s are now eligible for their vaccination, so if you haven’t had yours take up the offer by attending a pop up clinic (check our social media for details of dates, times and venues) or call 119 or book online here. If you don’t get a suitable appointment online straight away, keep trying – new slots are being added all the time. Also, get a second vaccination as this will ensure maximum protection. If you need any help with answering vaccination questions, we’ve prepared a useful FAQ with NHS Stockport Clinical Commissioning Group which will give the information you need here.
Also do please continue to carry out regular lateral flow testing. Free home testing kits can be picked up from pharmacies, libraries, Fred Perry House Test Centre, and the car park on Chadwick Street in Marple. Find your nearest test centre or collection point here.
If you test positive, or been informed by NHS Test and Trace you have been a contact of someone who has, self-isolate for 10 days – this is law and helps break the chain of transmission. Information on support during self-isolation can be found here. You will need to take a confirmatory PCR test, which can be booked by calling 119 or via here. If you need to self-isolate and are finding this difficult, please phone our Coronavirus helpline on 0161 217 6046 or for further information visit here.
To further curb the transmission, please continue to social distance (2m), wear face coverings (unless exempt), wash/sanitise hands regularly, meet outdoors where possible and keep enclosed areas well ventilated by having windows open (15 minutes each hour). Further information on reducing transmission can be found here.
Also remember to take care of your mental health and wellbeing. If you’re finding things difficult, reach out as we have lots of offers of help and support listed here. For further information on how you might look after yourself, visit our Health and Wellbeing page or Healthy Stockport.
*This is the latest figure for Stockport validated on 25.6.21.