Omicron variant could cause surge in Long Covid cases

Nurse giving vaccine

Long Covid risks are reduced by almost half for those who are double-jabbed - Credit: PA

Health chiefs are bracing themselves for a surge of more than 17,000 new Long Covid diagnoses in Suffolk.

Data published in Suffolk County Council’s health scrutiny papers said that data “modellers believe we are about to see a surge in Long Covid cases mirroring the Omicron surge around Christmas time”.

The modelling indicates that up to March 1, 2022, there were 12,685 cases of Long Covid in Suffolk, but in the 10 weeks between March 1 and May 15 this year it estimates there could be a further 17,185.

It is believed to be as a result of the surge of the Omicron variant around last Christmas, because there is a 12-week lag between having a positive Covid-19 case and having a Long Covid diagnosis.

The key symptoms include continued shortness of breath or fatigue since having Covid-19, muscle ache or difficulty in concentrating.

The report said: “These high, and increasing, numbers follow the case rate trend we saw in December – remember there is a 12-week lag from Covid diagnosis to Long Covid diagnosis, which is defined here as symptoms continuing after 12 weeks.”

A study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases reported that Long Covid risks reduced by almost half for those who were double-jabbed, as well as reducing the chance of hospitalisation.

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It comes as a record-high number of UK Covid cases were reported in the week up to March 26, with an estimated 4.9million people infected.

Suffolk dashboard data for March 31 indicated the county had 929 daily cases, with a case rate of 1,104.5 per 100,000 people.

People with symptoms over 12 weeks can get a referral to the Suffolk and North East Essex Long Covid Assessment Service (SNELCAS) from their GP.

According to the council’s report, a virtual group programme with seven sessions around fatigue management and wellbeing can be offered.

It added: “SNELCAS signpost to relevant onward services if clinically required that might include, but is not limited to, chronic fatigue services, allied health professionals service, speech and language therapy, dietetic services, social prescribing resources, self-management support, wellbeing services including vocational support.

“The service will provide follow up to patients at 12 weeks and six months to
measure outcomes.”