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COVID-19: Two million people in UK estimated to be suffering from long COVID, Office for National Statistics says

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A record two million people in the UK are estimated to be suffering from long COVID, the Office for National Statistics has said.

Of the two million, 1.4 million said they first had coronavirus, or suspected they had the illness, at least 12 weeks previously, while 826,000 first had it at least a year earlier.

Another 376,000 said they first had COVID-19 at least two years previously.

The condition is estimated to be adversely affecting the day-to-day activities of 1.4 million people – around seven in 10 of those who reported having it.

A total of 398,000 – one in five – say their ability to undertake day-to-day activities has been “limited a lot”, the ONS found.

They added that the rates of long COVID were highest among women, those aged 35 to 69 years, people living in more deprived areas, those working in social care, teaching and education or health care, and those with other health conditions or disabilities.

Fatigue continues to be the most common symptom – experienced by 55% of those with self-reported long COVID – followed by 32% with shortness of breath, 23% with a cough and 23% with muscle ache.

The figures emerged less than a fortnight since the UK’s coronavirus alert level was reduced, as two rare types of Omicron were reclassified as variants of concern.

The level was moved from four to three after advice from the four nations’ chief medical officers and the NHS England medical director.

They said that “the current BA.2 driven Omicron wave is subsiding” and “direct COVID-19 healthcare pressures continue to decrease in all nations”.

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Long COVID causing problems

The new ONS figures are based on self-reported long COVID from a representative sample of people in private households in the four weeks to 1 May.

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