Long COVID: More than one million people report ongoing coronavirus symptoms, ONS data shows

More than one million people living in the UK are experiencing the after-effects of COVID-19 following infection, according to the Office for National Statistics.

It is the largest monthly increase – up from 970,000 in the previous ONS survey – with 1.1 million people in private households reporting having long COVID during the four weeks to 5 September.

Long COVID is defined as symptoms which last for more than four weeks after individuals first suspect they are infected, and are not explained by something else.

Persistent coronavirus symptoms have been affecting some of the earliest COVID-19 sufferers since the first few months of 2020.

The latest ONS data suggests an estimated 405,000 people have experienced self-reported long COVID that has lasted for at least a year. This is an increase from 384,000 a month earlier.

Around 706,000 people said the problems were affecting their day to day life.

Fatigue was the most common symptom (experienced by 56%), followed by shortness of breath (40%), loss of smell (32%), and difficulty concentrating (31%).

Prevalence of long COVID was the greatest among 35 to 69-year-olds, and women, the latest data showed, and the highest among those working in the health and social care professions.

The largest increase in prevalence was among workers in the hospitality industry, up from 1.6% to 2.6%.

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The ONS said: “As a proportion of the UK population, prevalence of self-reported long COVID was greatest in people aged 35 to 69 years, females, people living in more deprived areas, those working in health or social care, and those with another activity-limiting health condition or disability.

“Compared with the previous month, prevalence of self-reported long COVID was notably higher among young adults aged 17 to 24 years and people working in the hospitality sector.”

Long COVID symptoms vary from person to person, and can include chest pain, insomnia, depression and anxiety, earaches, loss of appetite, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of taste and rashes, according to the NHS website.

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