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Health

English health service to offer 'long COVID' clinics

FILE PHOTO: Medics work in an Intensive Care ward treating coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey, Britain, May 22, 2020. Steve Parsons/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - Sufferers of “Long COVID” symptoms in England will receive specialist care, the National Health Service said on Wednesday, with clinics set up to treat symptoms from breathlessness to brain fog.

Evidence is mounting that thousands of people may suffer weeks or months of long-term side effects, even if they did not have a severe case of COVID-19 initially.

NHS England said that some estimates indicated 10% of COVID patients may still be experiencing symptoms more than three weeks after infection, with around 60,000 suffering from Long COVID symptoms after more than three months.

“It is now clear that Long Covid can have a major impact on the lives of a significant minority of patients weeks or months after they have contracted the virus,” said NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens.

“We must respond sensitively and effectively to these new patient needs.”

The NHS said 10 million pounds ($13 million) would be invested in local funding to start up Long COVID clinics across England, with respiratory consultants, physios and general practitioners among those who will diagnose and treat the symptoms, which include chronic fatigue, anxiety and stress.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had severe COVID-19 in April, has said long COVID exists and that work is being done to understand it, though he says he is not suffering from it himself.

In July, Britain put 8.4 million pounds into a study to better understand the long-term health impact on some patients beyond the immediate respiratory issues.

Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Stephen Addison

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