Guidance aiming to help healthcare professionals manage ‘long Covid’

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New guidance has been published on managing the long-term health effects of Covid-19, or so-called ‘long Covid’.

The guidance by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) has outlined how best to care for people who have signs and symptoms that develop during or after an infection consistent with Covid-19, which continue for more than four weeks and which are not explained by an alternative diagnosis.

Although the guidance has emphasised that most people’s symptoms of Covid-19 resolve within 12 weeks, it recognises that, for a sizeable minority, symptoms can persist or new ones develop, and can sometimes worsen.

Longer term impacts can include shortness of breath, fatigue, and problems involving the heart, lungs, kidneys, nervous system and muscles and joints, the guidance has highlighted.

People may have ongoing symptomatic Covid-19 if they present with symptoms four to 12 weeks after the start of acute symptoms, and they may have post-Covid syndrome if their symptoms have not resolved after 12 weeks, it has added.

Paul Chrisp, director of the Centre for Guidelines at NICE, said: “This guideline highlights the importance of providing people with good information after they’ve had acute Covid-19 so they know what to expect and when they should ask for more medical advice.

“This could help to relieve anxiety when people do not recover in the way they expect, particularly because symptoms can fluctuate and there are so many different symptoms reported.

“Because this is a new condition and there is still much that we don’t know about it, the guideline will be adaptable and responsive as understanding of the condition grows and new evidence about how to manage it emerges,” he added.

Recent research has suggested many people suffering with long Covid are still unable to fully work six months after their initial coronavirus infection. The Office for National Statistics in December concluded that a fifth of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 are still exhibiting symptoms five weeks or more after being infected with the virus, with a tenth suffering from long Covid for three months or longer.

The guidance can be found here

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