UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was “very concerned” about the effects of Long Covid after numbers from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that almost one in seven people who tested positive for Covid-19 three months later still has symptoms.
He said the government is investing more in combating and understanding the condition.
He told Sky News, “We can see the impact of these new statistics that are being shown today and I understand the impact they have had on hundreds of thousands of people.
“It is one of the many harmful problems this virus poses.
“We are investing more research money into combating and understanding long-term Covid as it appears to be several different syndromes.
“This is a very strange, very dangerous virus and another reason for everyone to be careful.
“Make sure you enjoy the sunshine, but no one is safe from this virus until we can get everyone to safety.”
An estimated 1.1 million people in private households in the UK said they had experienced “long covid” in the four weeks leading up to March 6, according to the ONS.
Of these people, an estimated 697,000 had Covid-19 – or suspected they had Covid-19 – at least 12 weeks previously, while 70,000 had the virus for the first time or suspected they had the virus at least a year ago.
Long Covid has been estimated to adversely affect the daily activities of 674,000 people. 196,000 reported that their ability to perform everyday activities was severely impaired.
The prevalence rates of self-reported long Covid were highest among people ages 35 to 69, women, people living in the most deprived areas, people who work in health or social care, and people with a pre-existing, ONS found restrictive health status.
However, it is not possible to say whether these patterns are due to differences in risk of coronavirus infection or to susceptibility to long-term Covid infections after infection.
The ONS defines Long Covid as symptoms that persist more than four weeks after the first suspected episode of Covid-19 and are not explained by anything else.