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Long covid: Brain fog and constant fatigue: Healthcare professionals share symptoms

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long covid brain fog and constant fatigue healthcare professionals share symptoms

Healthcare professionals with so-called ‘long Covid’ are urging the government to take the condition seriously as they add their voices to the thousands of people suffering from lasting effects of the virus weeks, and even months, after their first symptoms.   

Junior anesthetist Linn Järte, of Swansea and GP Amy Small are among those sharing their often debilitating symptoms of ‘long Covid’, including brain fog, constant tiredness and memory loss.

In the case of Järte, the condition has left her ‘largely bed bound’ five months on from her first coronavirus symptoms. She said she is ‘entirely unable’ to carry out her profession. 

Earlier this week, in a manifesto published in the British Medical Journal, a cohort of 39 doctors wrote of their battle with long Covid, and called for more research and clinical services to treat the symptoms of it. 

Doctors reported it was ‘difficult to navigate help’ for these long-term symptoms and said there needed to be a proper diagnosis of the condition in order to gain access to services.

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GP Amy Small posted a video of herself experiencing brain fog; saying she was unable to formulate words properly and had been slurring her words

A second video posted a few hours' later sees Small speaking fluently with her 'brain functioning properly again'.

GP Amy Small posted a video of herself experiencing brain fog; saying she was unable to formulate words properly and had been slurring her words (left). A second video posted a few hours’ later sees Small speaking fluently with her ‘brain functioning properly again’ (right)

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Nisreen Alwan, an associate professor in public health at the University of Southampton who has personal experience of long Covid, spoke about her experience in a virtual BMJ panel discussion about the condition.

She defined long Covid as ‘not recovering [for] several weeks or months following the start of symptoms that were suggestive of Covid, whether you were tested or not.’ 

She noted ‘profound fatigue’ was a common symptom in most people but that the range of symptoms included cough, breathlessness, muscle and body aches, and chest heaviness or pressure, but also skin rashes, palpitations, fever, headache, diarrhoea, and pins and needles.

She added: ‘A very common feature is the relapsing, remitting nature of the illness, where you feel as though you’ve recovered, then it hits you back.’ 

Alwan described the fluctuations of her own illness, saying: ‘It’s a constant cycle of disappointment, not just to you but people around you, who really want you to recover.’

Junior anesthetist Linn Jarte, of Swansea, had Covid in February and says she's still 'unable to carry out my profession' five months after catching the virus

Junior anesthetist Linn Jarte, of Swansea, had Covid in February and says she’s still ‘unable to carry out my profession’ five months after catching the virus

This experience is echoed by thousands of Facebook users who have joined groups including the Long-Covid Support Group, which already has more than 21,000 members, and Post Covid 19 Syndrome Support (International), which has 3,600 members, in a search for greater support and answers to their health questions. 

Are there long-term symptoms of Covid-19? 

Covid-19 is described as a short-term illness caused by infection with the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Public health officials tend to say people will recover within two weeks or so.

However it’s become increasingly clear that this is not the case for everyone, and that the two-week period is only the ‘acute illness’ phase.

Data from the COVID Symptom Study app, by King’s College London and health company Zoe, suggests one in ten people may still have symptoms after three weeks, and some may suffer for months.

For those with more severe disease, Italian researchers who tracked 143 people who had been hospitalised with the disease found almost 90 per cent still had symptoms including fatigue two months after first falling unwell.

The most common complaints were fatigue, a shortness of breath and joint pain – all of which were reported during their battle with the illness.

Another study in Italy showed one in ten people who lose their sense of taste and smell with the coronavirus – now recognised as a key sign of the infection – may not get it back within a month.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, involved 187 Italians who had the virus but who were not ill enough to be admitted to hospital.

The UK’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty has said the longer term impacts of Covid-19 on health ‘may be significant’.

Support group have popped up online for those who have suspected Covid-19 and your experience doesn’t follow the textbook symptoms or recovery time.

Louise Barnes, of Suffolk, who founded the Post Covid Syndrome Support Group, said members of the group have reported a total of 172 lasting symptoms.  

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Many have told how they have not been taken seriously by doctors when they present with symptoms of long Covid. 

GP Amy Small, who has experienced brain fog caused by long Covid, urged fellow medical professionals to take the symptoms seriously. 

She posted: ‘Please help get the message out there that #LongCovid symptoms are NOT “anxiety”. Am hearing many heartbreaking stories of folk with neuro/resp/cardiac symptoms being told it’s “all anxiety”. It’s ok to say “I don’t know, but I’ll try to find out more”.’

To illustrate her point, she shared two clips of herself, one where she said she was enduring brain fog, and another feeling like her normal self.

She wrote: ‘At the risk of looking like a complete idiot I’m posting 2 videos filmed yesterday. The first one shows how #LongCovid can cause PEM and brain fog. It may be subtle to those of you who don’t know me but was slurring words all over the place just before I switched on camera.’

In the first video, Small appears tired as she describes her symptoms, saying: ‘I’m just struggling to speak properly and find the words, I guess it’s not always a visible thing that happens to people.’   

She added she couldn’t ‘formulate words and the fatigue is just too much’. A second video posted a few hours’ later sees Small speaking fluently with her ‘brain functioning properly again’. 

Meanwhile junior anesthetist Linn Jarte, who first fell ill in the middle of February, has also been reporting her own lengthy struggle to recover from coronavirus. 

Writing in the Facebook group, she said: ‘This has taken almost everything that is me away from me. I’m completely unable to carry out my profession.’ 

Järte says she’s now apprehensive that her brain may never function in the way that it did before.   

Paul Garner, a professor at the Liverpool school of tropical medicine added his experience, warning against exercising too heavily in the months after Covid. He wrote on Twitter: ‘Exercise Therapy was my life before Covid-19; now it is my nemesis. 

‘Don’t try and exercise your way out of #LongCovid. Pace, Accommodate, Convalesce. When able, enjoy a gentle walk. Don’t push it.’ 

Speaking in the BMJ discussion he said it is a ‘very bizarre disease’ that had left him feeling ‘repeatedly battered the first two months’ and then experiencing lesser episodes in the subsequent four months with continual fatigue, according to the BMJ report on the discussion.

He added: ‘Navigating help is really difficult.’

An article in the Irish Times featured Caroline O’Brien, a public health nurse who had a positive coronavirus test back in March.  

Professor Paul Garner, of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine who is still battling fatigue six months on

Professor Paul Garner, of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine who is still battling fatigue six months on 

Paul Garner told how he's continuing to feel the effects of Covid-19 and now struggles to exercise

Paul Garner told how he’s continuing to feel the effects of Covid-19 and now struggles to exercise

She said her recovery had been uncertain and prolonged, saying: ‘You just don’t know what’s going to hit you next. 

‘Sometimes for me it comes in like a tsunami. I could be fine for two days and then it hits me. I feel like I’ve been run over by a train and with that comes my brain fog.’ 

Who’s most likely to have long Covid? 

Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London is leader of the Covid Symptoms Study, published in July. 

He said in a BMJ panel discussion that long covid is about twice as common in women as in men, according to data. 

He added the average age of someone presenting with it was about four years older than people who had what might be termed as ‘short covid.’

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Research into the symptoms of Covid-19 is ongoing. Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London is leader of the Covid Symptoms Study, published in July, which identified six different ‘types’ of Covid-19. 

Speaking in the BMJ panel discussion, Professor Spector said data suggested there were two ‘types’ of Covid-19 most closely associated with longer term symptoms, indicating a possible way of predicting early on what might occur. 

He explained: ‘If you’ve got a persistent cough, hoarse voice, headache, diarrhoea, skipping meals, and shortness of breath in the first week, you are two to three times more likely to get longer term symptoms.’

Meanwhile data suggests that long covid was about twice as common in women as in men and that the average age of someone presenting with it was about four years older than people who had what might be termed as ‘short covid.’

However he said these assumptions could be refined as more data is collected. 

Fatigue is also the most common trait in people who had symptoms lasting longer than three weeks. 

Another almost universal experience is that people have ‘good days and bad days’, with roughly 80 per cent of people reporting this, according to Nick Peters, a professor of cardiology at Imperial College London and a consultant cardiologist.

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Controversial ‘self-identity’ gender plan set to be axed after government U-turn on policy  

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controversial self identity gender plan set to be axed after government u turn on policy

Plans to allow people to ‘self-identify’ as a different gender will be formally dropped this week after they sparked controversy.

Ministers have decided to scrap proposals to permit gender on birth certificates being changed without a medical diagnosis.

Instead, it is believed the cost of changing gender as it currently stands will be made cheaper. 

Equalities Minister Liz Truss, pictured, will this week publish the Government’s new stance on the 2004 Gender Recognition Act. Proposals to alter the legislation were sent out for consultation in 2018. But plans to allow people to change the gender on their birth certificate without a medical diagnosis have been dropped. The Government says it believes the current legislation is 'sufficient' to support people's right to change their sex.

Equalities Minister Liz Truss, pictured, will this week publish the Government’s new stance on the 2004 Gender Recognition Act. Proposals to alter the legislation were sent out for consultation in 2018. But plans to allow people to change the gender on their birth certificate without a medical diagnosis have been dropped. The Government says it believes the current legislation is ‘sufficient’ to support people’s right to change their sex.

The proposals to alter the 2004 Gender Recognition Act were sent out for consultation in 2018. 

Liz Truss, the equalities minister, will this week publish the Government’s new stance on the policy.

But a Government source told the Sunday Times: ‘We think that the current legislation, which supports people’s rights to change their sex, is sufficient.’

At the moment, those wishing to change sex have to pay £140 and apply to a panel for a gender recognition certificate.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling is in the spotlight again because her new book, Troubled Blood, features a 'transvestite serial killer'. Rowling has come under fire in the past for making transphobic remarks on Twitter. Transgender activists have described Rowling as a 'TERF', a derisive acronym for 'trans-exclusionary radical feminist'.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling is in the spotlight again because her new book, Troubled Blood, features a ‘transvestite serial killer’. Rowling has come under fire in the past for making transphobic remarks on Twitter. Transgender activists have described Rowling as a ‘TERF’, a derisive acronym for ‘trans-exclusionary radical feminist’.

They have to supply two reports stating they have suffered from gender dysphoria, which normally come from their GP and another doctor or psychologist. 

Tory MPs claimed Boris Johnson developed cold feet about scrapping the reforms after being influenced by his fiancée Carrie Symonds.

Trans rights activists have said failing to liberalise the law would be a ‘Section 28 moment’, referring to a 1988 ban on councils and schools ‘promoting homosexuality’. 

It comes after author JK Rowling was accused of transphobia after tweeting her opinions about the importance of biological sex. 

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ANDREW PIERCE: How Tory jail cuts hacked off David Cameron’s top aide

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andrew pierce how tory jail cuts hacked off david camerons top aide

Few Tory luminaries, it appears, had more harrowing personal experiences of the coalition government’s austerity measures than David Cameron‘s former Downing Street communications director Andy Coulson.

The ex-News of the World editor, who was jailed for 18 months in 2014 for presiding over an epidemic of phone hacking at his newspaper a decade earlier, has discussed the experience in an interview with the Crisis What Crisis? podcast, which he usually presents.

He described his grim journey in a prison van from the Old Bailey to the Category A Belmarsh jail in South-East London: ‘The building is out of central casting: enormous American-style prison walls, massive gates, you’re in no doubt you’re going to prison.’ 

Coulson, 52, who now runs a crisis management firm, added that he spent most of the time in his cell. ‘You would be allowed out for an hour and then do another 23 hours.’

Andy Coulson, the ex-News of the World editor, has discussed the experience in an interview with the Crisis What Crisis? podcast

Andy Coulson, the ex-News of the World editor, has discussed the experience in an interview with the Crisis What Crisis? podcast

But the most poignant recollection came when Coulson asked why he was not in an open prison, the normal category for someone convicted of his type of crime. A warder replied: ‘Tory cuts, Andy.’

 Bojo as PM is ‘stranger than fiction’

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One-time New Labour cheerleader Robert Harris — author of best-selling thrillers such as Fatherland and Enigma — also wrote a thinly disguised attack on Tony Blair entitled The Ghost, which was turned into a film starring Pierce Brosnan.

Asked by the New Statesman if he would subject Boris Johnson to the same literary treatment, Harris said: ‘It’s a cliche but when the politicians have become such extraordinary figures, fiction withers and dies in the face of them . . . 

‘If I tried to write a novel in which Donald Trump became president, and carried on the way he has, or where Johnson would be PM, everyone would say, ‘No. This doesn’t obey plausible rules.’ ‘

 KINNOCK kicks the loony left

That hammer of the Left Lord Kinnock can’t believe the Militant tendency returned to hijack Labour under Jeremy Corbyn in the form of Momentum. ‘I thought I’d killed them off,’ says the former Labour leader. ‘They did go away for 30 years and came back not one bloody millisecond wiser.’ Which aspect of the Trot revival does he have most contempt for? ‘The superficiality and use of slogans in place of real policies. The manifesto was packed with promises . . . People still believe in the spirit of Christmas but not in the Tooth Fairy.’ For once he’s right. 

 Impressionist Rory Bremner has the measure of Downing Street. ‘Like storms,

Government U-turns are now so frequent we’re going to have to give them names,’ he says. Should the first one be Boris?

When Sir Keir Starmer closes Labour’s virtual three-day party conference tomorrow, organisers may reflect on their wisdom in choosing Babl Cloud to handle the tech. Its boss is Brexiteer Jonathan Grant, who once retweeted this by the Bruges Group: ‘The cold hard truth is that it’s Boris’s Brexit or not at all.’ A bit embarrassing for Starmer, who once pledged to put Brexit to a second referendum.

 Veteran singer-songwriter Van Morrison has released three absurd anti-lockdown protest songs. They bring to mind broadcaster Mark Ellen’s telling observation about the irascible singer: ‘There are two types of people in this world. Those who love Van Morrison. And those who’ve met Van Morrison.’

 If ‘frivolous’ demands for Covid tests really are responsible for the capacity shortfall, as one minister has suggested, the Government only has itself to blame. Its adverts are running with the message: ‘At the first sign of a cough, stay at home and get tested.’

 Former Chancellor Ken Clarke, 80, was showered with compliments when he took his seat in the House of Lords last week, but Tory MP Damian Green points out: ‘The great thing about all these (justified) Twitter tributes to Ken is that you absolutely know he won’t see any of them.’ Clarke famously never looks at social media.

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Former head of the Supreme Court Baroness Hale says Parliament ‘surrendered’ its powers

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former head of the supreme court baroness hale says parliament surrendered its powers

The supreme court’s first female president has said Parliament ‘surrendered’ its powers over to the Government amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Baroness Brenda Hale, who served as president at the UK’s highest court from 2017- 2020, criticised the draconian measures and ‘sweeping’ powers being enforced on the British public without the scrutiny of Parliament. 

Her comments come as the Government seeks to extend the emergency coronavirus powers for a further six months in an effort to control a second devastating wave of coronavirus.

Baroness Brenda Hale, who served as president at the UK's highest court from 2017- 2020, criticised 'sweeping' powers being enforced on the public without the scrutiny of Parliament

Baroness Brenda Hale, who served as president at the UK’s highest court from 2017- 2020, criticised ‘sweeping’ powers being enforced on the public without the scrutiny of Parliament

In an essay seen by The Guardian, the baroness wrote: ‘It is not surprising the police were as confused as the public as to what was law and what was not.’

Referencing the Prime Minister’s chief advisor Dominic Cummings, the former judge went on to describe how there was confusion among Government ministers themselves as to what the rules were. 

She continued: ‘A certain government adviser obviously did know what the regulations were and what they said.’

Baroness Hale also explained that Parliament ‘did surrender control to the government at a crucial time’ and urged ministers to now restore a ‘properly functioning constitution’.

She added: ‘My plea is that we get back to a properly functioning constitution as soon as we possibly can.’ 

The baroness’ calls come as senior Tories plan a parliamentary lock to prevent Boris Johnson having the final say on new lockdown measures after restrictions on the public’s freedom, such as the Rule of Six, were introduced without a debate in the Commons. 

Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee, is planning to table an amendment that would force ministers to put any new measures to a vote first. 

This week it was revealed that Tories plan a parliamentary lock to prevent Boris Johnson having the final say on new lockdown measures

This week it was revealed that Tories plan a parliamentary lock to prevent Boris Johnson having the final say on new lockdown measures

Sir Graham Brady (pictured) is looking to force a vote by MPs on emergency coronavirus measures

Sir Graham Brady (pictured) is looking to force a vote by MPs on emergency coronavirus measures

The move comes as Boris Johnson announced that anyone in England who refuses to obey an order to self-isolate could face a fine of up to £10,000.

The Altrincham and Sale West MP told The Sunday Telegraph that he would take the opportunity to seek to amend the legislation when the Government comes to renew the emergency powers in the Coronavirus Act 2020.

The move is likely to attract significant support from Conservative MPs unhappy at the extensive powers taken by ministers with little or no parliamentary scrutiny.

Sir Graham told the Telegraph: ‘In March, Parliament gave the Government sweeping emergency powers at a time when Parliament was about to go into recess and there was realistic concern that NHS care capacity might be overwhelmed by Covid-19.

‘We now know that the NHS coped well with the challenge of the virus and Parliament has been sitting largely since April. 

‘There is now no justification for ministers ruling by emergency powers without reference to normal democratic processes.’ 

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