40,000 Hertfordshire residents are suffering from ‘long Covid’, says public health official

Deputy director of public health Sarah Perman spoke at the county council’s public health and community safety cabinet panel

More than 40,000 residents in Hertfordshire are reported to be suffering from ‘long Covid’, it has emerged.

Symptoms of ‘long Covid’ can include extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, chest pain or palpitations, memory problems or insomnia.

They can also include dizziness, joint pain, anxiety and feeling sickness – as well as symptoms similar to Covid such as temperature, cough or changes to smell and taste.

Coronavirus stock image
Coronavirus stock image

Although most people can expect to make a full recovery from Covid-19 within 12 weeks, ‘long Covid’ symptoms can persist for months.

And today (Monday, July 12) Hertfordshire’s deputy director of public health Sarah Perman reported that there are already around 40,000 people in the county suffering from ‘long Covid’.

Speaking at a meeting of the county council’s public health and community safety cabinet panel, she said: “We know that there are a very high number of people in Hertfordshire who are experiencing long Covid.

“I think the latest figures that we know are that there are around 40,000.”

Dr Perman said the responsibility sat mainly with the ‘integrated care system’ (ICS), rather than with public health.

But she said the county council’s public health team was working closely with the ICS to look at where public health could ‘add value’ – including through prevention programmes and physical activity.

“We do know that the impacts are very clinical,” she said.

“So, we want to make sure that our more general offer is appropriate for that group of people who do suffer quite specific clinical impacts.”

Executive member for public health and community safety Cllr Morris Bright suggested there would be more people with ‘long Covid’ in the future.

And he stressed that the next stage of the pandemic would be ‘living with Covid’ rather than a ‘post-Covid’ – and that the repercussions would continue.

Liberal Democrat Cllr John Hale contrasted the need for long term planning with the short term funding.

And in sobering response director of public health Jim McManus said ‘Covid recovery’ would take time.

“It’s going to be a decade before we see all the mental health, grief physical health and other issues that have come from Covid fully working through the system, because that’s just the nature of pandemics,” he said.

“This is going to be a marathon – not a sprint. And I suspect we will be making ‘Covid recovery’ our ‘business as usual’ for the next few years.”

The remarks were made at the meeting after deputy director of public health Sarah Perman reported on the public health team’s response to Covid-19 recovery.

According to the report to the cabinet panel, as of June 23 there had been 79,780 people in Hertfordshire who had tested positive for Covid-19 – and there had been 2842 deaths, which had Covid-19 on the death certificate.