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As Britain braces itself to ease Covid-19 restrictions next week, how occupational health can effectively help and support employers to manage ‘long Covid’ may become increasingly important, highlights Naomi Thompson.
Many businesses have been in prevention mode throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. By encouraging employees to work from home, or in a distanced fashion within offices, plants, and headquarters, businesses have been actively avoiding the spreading of Covid-19 between its employees.
However, as the pandemic evolves, and with restrictions poised to be lifted totally on 19 July, we face the reality of dealing with coronavirus long term.
In this scenario, even though uncertainties remain, businesses are increasingly moving their thinking from prevention to support. This is certainly the case with instances of ‘long Covid’, which are on the rise and causing some employees to suffer from long-term side effects that impact them at work.
Understanding long Covid
So, what is long Covid, and how can OH practitioners help employers to manage its impact in the workplace?
Long Covid, as probably most OH professionals will now be well aware, refers to the ongoing ill health experienced by some people following the initial or acute period of Covid-19 infection.
While, for many people, Covid-19 is a short illness, for others, symptoms can persist and can be debilitating for weeks, or even months, after the virus is contracted.
The medical profession is still learning about – and adapting to – mutations in coronavirus. However, recorded data now tells us that some patients with long Covid may not have ever actually returned a positive coronavirus test result – whether through a false negative result, or through having contracted Covid-19 before widespread testing was available.
Just as the acute-onset Covid-19 can affect different people in dif