People across the country are continuing to struggle with the debilitating after-effects of Covid-19, with some now reporting more unusual symptoms many weeks on from positive testing.
Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that around one in 25 people (4.42%) in England and Wales had the virus for the weekend April 29, and while this figure is falling there remain more than 170,000 people here with the disease. It is estimated that one in 10 will go on to experience so-called long Covid, where it takes weeks, months or even years to fully recover.
It also appears that in the past few weeks, particularly during March when infection rates reached record high levels due to the BA2 Omicron variant, people have been hit with longer and more unusual periods of coronavirus illness, reports WalesOnline.
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Chiara Rinaldi, 38, said in the days before she tested positive for Covid she felt deeply tired and in a “state of otherworldliness” due to her brain fog. She said at times she was so exhausted that she wondered whether she’d make it home after the school drop-off.
“Everything seemed a major effort. A week in I had a migraine, so I blamed that, but days after it hadn’t gone away. Convinced my symptoms were something more physical, I went to the GP. It was hard to put into words how I was feeling – I had a weakness on one side of my body that would come and go, dizzy spells and brain fog that left me unable to remember that I started making a cup of tea,” explained the WalesOnline editor and mum- of-two.
“I thought maybe it was a deficiency or perhaps anaemia, but the GP found a water infection. The next day I woke up with chest pains and ended up in hospital for tests but it was all clear and put down to costochondritis, when you get sharp pain from inflammation of the sternum – common after an infection.”
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Despite taking a course of antibiotics, Chiara said nothing had improved, although her chest pain had gone. Then she finally tested positive for Covid and felt “vindicated”. “It was a massive relief to know why I felt terrible. I then developed the more common symptoms like a cough and a sore throat,” she added.
However, this was not the end of her symptoms. A week later Chiara spent the night vomiting, and more than six weeks on she still has a mild cough and cannot shake the exhaustion. “There are days when I feel like I’m getting better, then others when I feel back to square one with brain fog and exhaustion,” she said.
“I went to a children’s party and ended up asleep in bed for the afternoon. It feels worse just before lunchtime, I suspect when my body is craving food. At lunchtime meetings, I find it really hard to get my words out and to concentrate on what’s been said. I have other friends, mostly female and in their 30s and 40s who are experiencing similar things. I hear lots that rest is the best cure.”
Meanwhile, journalist, broadcaster and author Carolyn Hitt said when she was first struck down with Covid she had many of the telltale signs including flu-like symptoms, a sore throat and general achiness. However, a fortnight later she began experiencing stranger symptoms including terrible earache.
She explained: “It’s like when you’ve been on a flight and your ears won’t pop. It’s that kind of feeling of having pressure in the head. I’ve had sore eyes as well, a bit like conjunctivitis. Everything from the neck up has felt inflamed – even my gums felt sore which was a strange one. My brother had it at the same time and he had very similar symptoms.”
Carolyn, who had managed to escape catching coronavirus until last month, said her range of symptoms made her feel “washed out”. She added: “For quite a few days I just needed to nap in the afternoon. It’s like I’d gone back to being in nursery as I needed a lie down in the middle of the day. But there was nothing on my chest at all which is great. [the virus] from reaching there.”
After posting a status on her personal Facebook page about her experiences, her friends said they had experienced similar issues. One person stated: “I had it a few weeks ago, it was definitely mild but have been needing naps since then”. Another stated: “Yes, very tired. Also brain fog. Comes and goes. Seems to be getting better now.”
Carolyn, who didn’t have a dry cough or a high temperature when she tested positive, said she was “surprised” she felt so unwell but is now finally returning to her normal self. “I felt rotten and I was quite worried in the aftermath that I felt so tired all the time. I was concerned about how long it would go on for. I was dragging myself around the day. I have seen Covid much more in my immediate circle than ever before.”
Public Health Wales said it was continuing to monitor the coronavirus situation across Wales. A spokesman said the NHS trust was not currently observing an increase in severe illness or hospitalizations thanks to the successful Welsh vaccination programme.
“Covid can sometimes manifest itself with a broad range of non-specific symptoms. However, the main symptoms to look out for are a high temperature, a new continuous cough, a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, shortness of breath , feeling tired or exhausted, an aching body, headache, sore throat, blocked or runny nose, loss of appetite, diarrhea, or feeling or being sick,” the spokesman said.
“The continued circulation of coronavirus across Wales is likely as a result of increased mixing following the easement of restrictions and is to be expected as we move out of the pandemic and into Covid-19 being an endemic disease.
“The best thing you can do to protect yourself, your family and community is to take up the offer of a coronavirus vaccine. You can also protect yourself and others by maintaining a social distance where possible, washing hands regularly and ensuring there is adequate fresh air ventilation when meeting indoors. If you develop any of the common symptoms listed above, you should self-isolate immediately to protect others and request a coronavirus test.”
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