I have called on Government to treat the surge in long Covid patients with the same urgency as the initial Covid-19 infections and ensure that the 18,245 adults in County Galway who are trying to manage long Covid are given access to the medical care they need.

“Local patients are trying to access medical care as part of the 336,451 adults nationally who are likely to be suffering from long Covid and despite promises since last September we are still waiting for a treatment pathway to be put in place by the HSE”

“Symptoms of long Covid include fatigue and brain fog, which are experienced at least three months after the initial infection for significant periods of time, in some cases over 2 years. Professor Jack Lambert of the Mater Hospital told the Oireachtas Health Committee recently that patients with the condition “act very much like patients who have experienced closed head injuries”

“The World Health Organisation has defined Long Covid as a condition that occurs in individuals with a history of probable or confirmed SARS CoV-2 infection, usually three months from the onset of COVID-19 with symptoms that last for at least two months and cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis”.

“These effects appear to occur irrespective of the initial severity of the Covid infection but occur more frequently in women, middle age and in those with more symptoms initially.”

“Last September after my colleague Denis Naughten TD questioned the Health Minister on the issue of treatment for long Covid patients, the HSE stated that it planned to establish specialist long Covid clinics yet today we are still waiting for this to happen.”

“The reality is that with so many long Covid patients presenting to our health service with complex health conditions, our hospitals will be overwhelmed as we begin to plan for a winter of hospital overcrowding. In addition, these services will be put under considerable pressure due to recurring waves of further Covid-19 illness,”

“We cannot just sleepwalk into a crisis of chronic illness, which will push people waiting on treatments since before the pandemic even further down already horrendous waiting lists. We need to see this surge of long Covid patients managed with a co-ordinated response from Government, which based on responses that I have received previously has not been forthcoming.

The estimated 336,451 adults nationally who are likely to be suffering from long Covid is based on research published earlier this month in The Lancet by a team of researchers in the Netherlands who have attributed long Covid symptoms to 12.7% of patients infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and research on blood donors published last month by Ireland’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre which indicates that 69% of adults in Ireland have been infected by the virus.

“In fact, The Lancet paper has described long Covid as ‘the next public health disaster in the making’, which clearly indicates that Government must now treat this illness and the patients with it as a matter of the utmost priority.”