Girl, 8, hit so hard by long Covid she couldn't go to school six months later

A previously healthy eight-year-old battered by long Covid was unable to return to school six months after first being infected, her heartbroken Mum has revealed. 

Anna Hendy was struck down by the virus in April and has faced a number of long-term health issues ever since, but her health deteriorated three months ago to such an extent that she has not been in classes since.

The Scottish youngster tried to return to school in August but was like a ‘zombie’, mother Helen Goss, said, as she pleaded with the government to take the issue seriously. Helen, who has been trained as a nurse, believed her daughter has undiagnosed Paediatric Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome (PIMS) after catching Covid-19. It has not been diagnosed by health professionals, however.

It comes after revealed that countless children are suffering from the longer-term impacts of the virus, with experts, support groups and parents all speaking out about long Covid in kids. 

Anna has been in hospital twice since being infected and when she returned to school five months later was so tired she would sleep at her desk – and then became so anxious she was scared to go in.

Anna, her mum Helen, 37, and her partner were all infected in early April in Westhill, Aberdeenshire.

By the end of April 2020, Anna – who had been infected along with Mum Helen, 37, and her partner – became really ill and developed a 40C fever, a rash, muscle weakness, fast heart rate and changes to her taste and smell.

Stay-at-home mum Helen, who had done two years’ nursing training and extensively monitored her daughter’s progress on a chart, believes it was the result of the post-viral illness PIMS

The youngster still experiences recurring headaches, muscle aches, nausea, rashes and feeling heavy and slow.

Mum-of-one Helen believes childhood long Covid has been overlooked and fears the healthcare system could be overwhelmed if children are sent back to schools which cannot ventilate or socially distance properly.

Helen said: ‘It is such a shame for schools because they have been put in a position where people are saying “schools are safe”.

‘It is a huge gamble with health but you can catch up with education.’

Today Prime Minister Boris Johnson said schools, which have been shut since before Christmas, will now not reopen until March 8 at the earliest.

This evening England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam told the Downing Street press conference that children ‘very rarely’ get ill with Covid-19.

The vast majority of children recover from the infection fully and quickly – if they develop symptoms at all.

But warning of the longer-term effects, Helen, who says her daughter had no previous underlying health conditions, said: ‘On Anna’s first day back at school she was so, so tired, she was like a little zombie putting her head down on the desk.’

Helen said the school and local authority had done everything they could to support her, including getting an educational psychologist involved.

Helen explained: ‘She physically couldn’t get herself into school, she was too frightened of catching it again.

‘None of her friends had had it, it was a very isolating experience.’

The school doctor prescribed melatonin which has helped improve Anna’s sleep, and also identified an iron deficiency, and blood tests at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary revealed a thyroid issue.

The family have no idea when Anna will be healthy again but hope the symptoms will wear off, although they have said support from the school doctor has been the best care they have received from medics.

Helen said: ‘She’s getting much more sleep but she’s still getting flare ups.

‘We did a staged plan, but she was so scared, her anxiety has been sky high.’

‘It’s not only the physical effects but the mental health impact.

Since November Anna has been enrolled in e-Sgoil, digital learning to support children in the Western Isles – and she has won an award for her efforts, but still misses days at a time.

Helen added: ‘There is still so little acknowledgment that it exists in kids, it is frustrating – it feels like being dismissed.

‘It just undermines how sick she has been.

‘Kids are suffering from long Covid, there seems to be a lot of denial of that from the medical community and the governments and it’s not helpful.’

Responding to on the issue earlier this week, the Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘We are working with the UK’s leading scientists on an ongoing basis to improve our collective understanding of the knock on effects of long Covid and to make sure we have the best treatments available – including the impact it has on all ages. 

‘New specialist long Covid NHS clinics have opened across the country, providing assessment for adults, children and young people alike.

‘These clinics will be play an invaluable role by helping medical experts to assess, diagnose and treat thousands of people suffering with the debilitating long-term health implications of this virus.’

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