The HSE should immediately develop and implement a national plan to address the effects of Long Covid, a Fine Gael TD has urged.
Fine Gael Spokesperson on Health Deputy Burke said, “At a national level, the HSE needs to develop a long-term plan which will address the risks associated with Long Covid.
“The Government should initiate an expert group on Long Covid which can collect and monitor international studies on the condition and establish guidelines for a national screening programme.
“The HSE also needs to create multi-disciplinary teams in each hospital health group to provide the required level of care for people suffering from Long Covid.
“The Covid Delta variant is spreading almost at will in the UK. The British government seems to have decided on a policy of vaccination and infections providing a level of community immunity. This is a very high-risk strategy.
“Leading UK virologists writing in the Financial Times have stated – increasing circulation of a virus, in a partially protected population, provides the ideal setting for the evolution of a new virus variants with mutations enabling the virus to resist vaccine induced immunity.”
“The Delta variant now has a strong foothold across Ireland. Case numbers will continue to rise in Ireland in the coming weeks. In making the decision to lift virtually all social restrictions, the British government has ignored Long Covid.
“A major consequence of rising Covid infections will be an increasing number of people suffering from the symptoms of Long Covid. Long Covid is no respecter of age; all age groups are vulnerable to the condition.
“In Ireland given that younger age groups are still largely unvaccinated they are now the groups most at risk of Long Covid. In the weeks immediately ahead, until they are fully vaccinated, young people need to follow public health guidelines and restrict their social contacts.
“NIAC also needs to come to an early decision on the benefits of vaccinating teenagers and younger children.
“International studies are now showing that a very significant percentage of people who contact Covid will continue so suffer from the symptoms of Long Covid for weeks, months and possibly longer after the original infection.
“A recent study in the UK shows that 38% of Covid patients are still dealing with one or more symptoms twelve weeks later. Official UK statistics indicate that in June just almost one million people were living with Long Covid.
“With 280,000 confirmed Covid cases in Ireland it is likely that up to 30,000 people or even more may be suffering from Long Covid in this country.
“The symptoms of Long Covid vary widely and there is still no agreed diagnosis of the condition. Some experts believe it may be an auto immune condition where the body’s own immune system attacks vital organs. Scientists are working on a diagnostic test for Long Covid but a breakthrough is not in sight.
“There is also some positive news regarding Long Covid. International studies indicate that many will make a full recovery and many others will see an easing of symptoms over time. Unfortunately for some it may become a chronic condition.
“Treating Long Covid in the months and years ahead will require significant clinical resources. The HSE must now start responding in a planned way to the challenge of Long Covid,” concluded Deputy Burke.